At present, the global economy is experiencing structural changes that often seem unprecedented. Rapid technological evolution, climate migration, demographic shifts, and deepening inequality all contribute to the current flux of economic systems. The threat of economic reconfiguration also appears to be fueling political polarization around the globe. In light of the current patterns that researchers are observing, many seek novel methods to understand the mechanisms that shape the new landscape.

SFI has long been a hub for research in complexity economics, and through its new research theme, it will continue to support research collaborations that help scientists understand emergent political economies. This summer, from August 8-12, SFI will host a working group called “How Can Complexity Economics Give More Insight into Political Economy?” 

The workshop will proceed in two phases, explains SFI External Professor and co-organizer Doyne Farmer (University of Oxford). The first will challenge researchers to develop quantitative methods to understand emergent structures. “Using the tools of complexity economics, we can make models with a much higher level of heterogeneity, and therefore higher levels of realism,” he says. 

In the second part of the workshop, researchers will revisit core questions in political economy with the help of new data, new models, and cross-disciplinary collaboration. “We now have a significant amount of new data on economic inequality, for example,” explains SFI External Professor and co-organizer Eric Beinhocker (University of Oxford), “yet we need to develop better theories to understand the patterns we see.” The workshop will give researchers a forum to simulate emergent inequality, for example, and test these simulations against new data. 

Ultimately, Farmer and Beinhocker hope that the group will clarify the challenges in political economy that complexity economics is uniquely positioned to address, and entice new researchers from both within and outside of political economy to collaborate on models that capture new global structures as they emerge.