Never underestimate the power of incentives, is what my economics guru used to say all the time. Economics is at its most generalized form the study of incentives. Positive analysis involves digging below the surface to uncover the incentives of the concerned economic agents (people) with the aim of explaining why things are they way they are. It is not just out of intellectual curiosity that one wishes to figure out why things are way they are. It is only the first step to the ultimate goal of obtaining a more desireable outcome. Of course, determining what is a desireable outcome involves value judgements and therefore dependent again on the concerned economic agents and necessarily subjective. But there is nothing subjective about the incentive schemes that need to be implemented in moving from the present state to the desired future state.
While fixing the links in the archives, I came across this piece from last year’s archives — the power of incentives — in which I examine the reason why PCs and the internet are promoted as the ultimate answer to all questions of economic development. It may be worth a quick look if you are new to this blog.