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GES: Understanding of Values Influences our Economy


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Our economy can only be successful if universal values are respected, according to Dennis J. Snower, the President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. Global problem-solving can only be successful if different values and perspectives are brought in line with each other, he said at the Global Economic Symposium (GES) 2015 which is organized by the Kiel Institute. “To tackle our global problems, we must seek not universal values – which we already have – but the dismantling of our social borders,“ said Snower. To achieve this people had to talk with each other, not just about one another, he said. “A major reason why the human species has been so successful in surviving and reproducing on our planet lies in our ability to cooperate with one another,“ stressed Snower.

In the view of scientists and decision makers attending the various panels at the GES, this should include the ability to look at things from different perspectives and the ability to understand each other's point of view. „People have norms on what they should or should not do,“ stated George Akerlof, Professor of Economics at Georgetown University and Nobel Laureate. To maintain this the respective identity of those involved was of vital importance. “People have an identity, an idea of who they are,“ said Akerlof. “And when people's identity changes, they will change what they do.“ Identity plays a central role in the interaction of people with one another.

“Identity as well as motivations will change by context,“ confirmed Tania Singer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig. “Everybody has many different identities or inner parts, such as mother, boss or the nationality.“ That is why it should be particularly important to understand the identities and motivations of other people. “Understanding the beliefs and motivations of other people is the crucial thing to get peace,“ stressed Singer.

Not only was the question of identity discussed intensely at the GES. Happiness, well-being and the question of how to measure economic progress were a big issue, too. “If you really want to create well-being, you have to work on many issues,“ said Hans-Paul Bürkner, Chairman der Boston Consulting Group. “The per-capita income has to be translated into well-being.“ But new economic approaches were necessary to achieve this and other goals, he said.

Find the program of the GES 2015 here.

Media Contact:
Guido Warlimont
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Organizer Cooperation Partner
Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
German National Library of Economics - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (ZBW)