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date: 15 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Economists cause harm as they try to do good: that is the tragedy of economics. That claim is a non-normative description, not an indictment of the profession. Harm arises because of the uneven impact across society of most economic policy interventions, and because of the irreparable ignorance economists face in their work. But the profession gives inadequate attention to the harm its practice induces—a claim that is both positive and normative. Standard approaches to harm in economics present harms as fully reparable through monetary compensation, even though many harms are not in fact reparable or compensable. Given its prevalence and depth, economists should foreground economic harm in their assessment of economic systems. The paper offers one such approach: “economy harm profile analysis.”

Keywords: harm, econogenic harm, ignorance, Kaldor-Hicks compensation test, irreparable harm, economy harm profile analysis, coercion

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