Complexity Economics

Welcome to my research blog! I have always found reading other people’s research blogs tremendously useful, as blogs give unique perspectives on aspects of research that do not show up in papers. This blog is my perspective as a junior scientist on the research topics I am passionate about – economics and complex systems – as well as on general topics in science and on careers in research.

My blog is about complexity economics, broadly defined as the application of complex systems methods in economics. In complex systems the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and complex systems scientists investigate how collective behavior emerges from interactive individual components. Practically speaking, complex systems science is a collection of computational and mathematical methods that are applied across the natural and social sciences.  This leads to the broad characterization of complexity economics as a theoretical and empirical focus in economics on networks, non-linear dynamics, adaptation, learning and heterogeneity.

I favor a narrower definition that applies to economic theory. According to this definition, complexity economics is economic modeling without equilibrium. I will write a separate blog post about what equilibrium means in economics, why economists make equilibrium assumptions and what building non-equilibrium models means. Here I only want to stress that equilibrium is a top-down constraint imposed on the economic system. A complex systems view of economics would rather suggest to take a bottom-up approach, for example using agent-based models. This is what makes the (narrowly-defined) complexity economics approach non-mainstream in economics, and perhaps “heterodox”.

I aim my blog at both complex systems scientists – mathematicians, physicists, biologists, computer scientists, etc. – and economists. To this end, I will try to avoid jargon and explain basic things that may be obvious in a field but not clear in others. This for example applies to my research. Every time I publish a paper I plan to write a blog post that describes the paper’s contribution in general terms. But my goal is also to discuss other people’s research, and general topics across economics and science. I would also like to give my opinion as a PhD student and (in the future) postdoc about careers in research, e.g. whether interdisciplinarity pays off or whether the economics job market chokes risky and innovative research.

I will not talk about politics. While I am deeply worried about recent trends across the world, I want to keep this blog only about science, and will only discuss political issues in a positive way (jargon alert: see link). I will also probably not talk about technical aspects of research such as coding and visualization. While this is my day-to-day job and I like having good code and good figures, I am neither a professional developer nor a visual designer, so other people would do a better job at talking about this.

I hope to write a blog post on average every month/two months. There are excellent blogs in economics and in complex systems, I hope this blog will contribute linking the two fields – making economists more aware of what it practically means to take a complex systems approach to economics, and making interdisciplinary scientists more aware of what economists are really doing and why they do it the way they do. This blog will not be the usual critique of economics from a natural sciences perspective, but will rather illustrate mainstream economists’ point of view while promoting an alternative approach.