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Digital issue
issue 2 - 2012
publisher Vita e Pensiero
format Digital issue | Pdf

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Markets, Science and Social Changes. Proudhon and the legacy oF Enlightenment
by Vitantonio Gioia, Emiliano Bevilacqua pages: 20 Download
This paper is focused on an often neglected aspect of Proudhon’s thought: his rich confrontation with the theoretical legacy of the Enlightenment authors (Rousseau, Diderot, A. Smith, Condorcet, etc.) about the nature of ‘‘commercial society’’ and the idea of social progress. Through the rethinking of the Enlightenment views, Proudhon builds an approach designed to inquire into the relationships between scientific advances and the increased awareness of social agents, in order to analyse the causes of economic and social changes. In this perspective Proudhon creates a new category of social progress that can explain the theoretical evolution of the social sciences and the dynamics of capitalistic society. At the centre of his analysis we find both an interesting and original reflection about the relationship between individuals and society, and about the evolution of human nature with reference to the idea of social ‘‘Justice’’.

Keywords: Proudhon, Enlightenment, Division of Labor, Political Economy, Social Progress.
JEL Classification: B12.
Public Capital, Private Capital and Economic Growth
by Alberto Bucci pages: 31 Download
A growth model is presented in which productive government expenditure takes the form of a stock. Private and public capital interact with each other in two ways. The first is related to the specification of the aggregate production function (Cobb-Douglas vs. CES). The second has to do with the rates of investment in the two types of capital, and arises from the law of motion of public capital. The share of public capital devoted to output production can be exogenous or endogenous. In this framework, we analyse how the optimal growth rate of the economy depends on the degree of complementarity/substitutability between the investments in the two kinds of capital, as well as on the elasticity of substitution between the two capital-inputs in the production of goods. Unlike Barro (1990), the relationship between optimal growth and the share of productive government expenditure in GDP is nonlinear and characterized by threshold-effects.

Keywords: Economic Growth; Complementarity/Substitutability; Public Capital; Private Capital.
JEL Classification: O41; E60; H54.
School Tracks, College Performance and Early Labour Market Outcomes
by Lorenzo Cappellari pages: 20 Download
Using data on a cohort of school leavers observed three years after finishing school this paper estimates the impact of school tracks on post-school behaviours, namely the rates of transition to college, college dropout, labour market participation and unemployment. Identification is achieved using retrospective information on parental unemployment at the time of track choice. Results show that students from the academic oriented track achieve better college performance and experience a worse transition to the labour market relative to students from labour market oriented tracks, consistent with the idea that tracking generates efficiency gains through specialization of knowledge. Results also show that family background is far more important than ability in determining allocation to tracks. The estimated distribution of unobserved heterogeneity suggests that such a situation may result in some inefficient allocations of less able students to college-oriented tracks, inflating college dropout rates.

Keywords: School tracking; College performance; School-to-work transition; Endogeneity.
JEL Classification: I21, J24, C35l.
Co-Production and Reversed Cream-Skimming in Quasi-markets
by Diego Lanzi, Flavio Delbono pages: 14 Download
In this paper, we provide a very simple model to shed light on the issue of managed competition in mixed quasi-markets (i.e. regulated markets in which social and for-profit firms coexist). In doing this, we consider the literature on mixed oligopolies as a reasonable reference point and try to enrich it with the idea of quasi-market. Firstly, our results show that social firms serve the relatively richer portion of the population. Only relatively poor consumers buy units of service from the profit-oriented firm. Secondly, the socially-preferable form of managed competition is to introduce co-production practices and, hence, to raise profit-oriented firm’s production costs. The diffusion of co-production paradigms ensures maximal service quality and eliminates mark-up from the market.

Keywords: Quasi-Markets, Competition, Regulation, Mixed Oligopoly, Social Firm.
JEL Classification: I18, L13, L84.
Regulation of Banks: Moving Targets
by Carsten Nielsen pages: 10 Download
We investigate, in a model of perfectly competitive banks and a lower bound on the deposit rate that these banks may offer, the idea that, as a result of financial innovation, capital adequacy requirements may become ineffective in preventing banks from investing in risky assets which are, from the point of view of society, inefficient. We interpret this as one possible explanation of the seemingly repeated failure of the Basel accords to induce a desired level of prudence by the banks.

Keywords: Bank regulation, capital requirements, moral hazard, financial innovation.
JEL Classification: D43, D82, G21, G28.

Note e discussioni

Social Justice and Capability Approach. A note on theses of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum about the importance of pursuing goals of social justice through the capability approach
by Andrea Villani pages: 13 Download
This paper examines theses of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum about the importance of pursuing goals of social justice through the capability approach. Are considered here the reasons of such a method, whose aim is to reach development of the capabilities of every human being. It is discussed also if the ends proposed by Sen and Nussbaum – that can be appreciated and culturally supported – can be considered fruit of a neutral contractarian approach, as behind a Rawlsian ‘veil of ignorance’, to which Nussbaum makes explicit reference. Neutral approach, that is of subjects without awareness of their specific interests in the process of bargaining. Or instead proposals intuitively established, rationally justifiable only ex-post, that could find their implementation as the contractarian outcome of a real confrontation among social actors, supporters of specific diversified interest in a liberal and democratic society.

Keywords: Justice, Criteria of rationality in individual and social choice, Utopia, Democracy.
JEL Classification: A 12, A 13, B 41.