The Root Causes of Shortsightedness and Their Manifestations in Developing Countries

William Ascher

in Bringing in the Future

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780226029160
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226029184 | DOI:
The Root Causes of Shortsightedness and Their Manifestations in Developing Countries

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This chapter summarizes the characteristics of impatience, selfishness, analytic limits, and vulnerability in developing countries and conveys why, in many circumstances, they are more formidable in these countries. Impatience reinforces the tendency of “goal substitution.” Selfishness is an obstacle to farsightedness. It also detracts from farsighted actions insofar as the benefits and costs tend to diffuse, or be externalized, over time. Actual uncertainty can exacerbate the misguided optimism arising from short-term abundance or apparent success. The three types of vulnerability may involve elements of uncertainty. In many circumstances, the farsighted are more vulnerable than the shortsighted. Vulnerability is particularly important in developing countries in discouraging even moderate risks to improve productivity. Both economic vulnerability and political vulnerability reflect a weakness in social capital in many developing countries.

Keywords: shortsightedness; impatience; selfishness; analytic limits; economic vulnerability; political vulnerability; developing countries; farsightedness; uncertainty; social capital

Chapter.  6125 words. 

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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