The Role of Economics: Creating the Sustainable Rational Agent

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How are consumption decisions made? Does demand drive supply or does supply drive demand or is it a mixture of both? Do consumption decisions implicitly include our values or are our decisions made with an assumption that what we are consuming has already factored in the long-term best interest of human health and environmental well-being? These basic questions are often unaddressed in the introductory study of economics. Instead assumptions related to consumption and production behavior, demand, and supply are embedded as representative of consumer and producer behavioral norms, typically with minimal discussion.

Could implicit assumptions promote observable behavior rather than be indicative of it? If so, could increasing awareness of the role of embedded values in demand and supply influence behaviors of consumers and producers and thereby alter economic outcomes? These questions were addressed as part of an introductory economics course case study. The purpose of the study was to raise awareness of the implications of individual purchasing decisions and to specifically, initiate students in self-evaluation of their individual values and the values embedded in their individual consumption behavior. The results of the study promote the view that increasing awareness of the holistic impact of consumption behavior may be a significant catalyst to promoting sustainability.

Original Citation

Venkatesan, M. (2016). The Role of Economics: Creating the Sustainable Rational Agent. International Advances in Economic Research, 22(2), 187-197. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11294-016-9573-0