Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The role of human recognition in economic development: Theory, measurement, and evidence
by Castleman, Joshua (Tony), Ph.D., The George Washington University, 2009, 334; 3344750
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation introduces the concept of human recognition and examines its role in economic development. The dissertation defines human recognition and describes and illustrates its relevance to economic development; develops a theoretical model of human recognition; develops a method for measuring human recognition; and applies the measurement method to three datasets to empirically test hypotheses predicted by the theoretical model.

Human recognition is defined as the acknowledgement provided to an individual by other individuals, groups, or organizations that he is of inherent value with intrinsic qualities in common with the recognizer, i.e. recognition as a fellow human being. Following a description of the characteristics, sources, and impacts of human recognition, chapter 1 presents a detailed example to help concretize the concept in the context of development programs. A review of literature on related concepts that are relevant and instructive to the study of human recognition finds that the concept of human recognition has not been directly addressed in existing work, and that it can contribute to understanding key issues and situations raised in the current literature.

Chapter 2 formalizes the concept of human recognition in an economic model that describes provision and receipt of human recognition, its contribution to utility, its effects on health and labor supply, and the role it plays in development programs. The model provides a theoretical basis for understanding human recognition transactions and offers an example of how intangible components of development can be formally modeled. Key predictions that emerge from the model are that human recognition levels have a positive, causal relationship with utility; that multiple equilibria for human recognition can exist, leading groups to be stuck at a low-level equilibrium; and that only accounting for human recognition’s instrumental effects on material program outcomes while ignoring recognition’s direct effects on utility leads to suboptimal programs.

In order to empirically test these predictions and in order to effectively incorporate human recognition considerations into programming, a method for reliably measuring human recognition is required. As a foundation for measurement, chapter 3 presents a framework that organizes the sources of human recognition into three domains of an individual’s life: household, community, and organizations and institutions. The framework is used to develop an index of indicators that combines measures of human recognition received in each of the domains into a single measure of total human recognition received. Within each domain, factor analysis is used to generate a single measure of human recognition out of multiple observed measures. Across domains, weighted sums are used to combine domain scores into a single measure. To demonstrate empirical application of the index and to carry out initial tests of the hypotheses predicted by the model, the index is initially applied to two cross-sectional survey datasets from India and Kenya, illustrating how human recognition can be measured using existing survey data. Results of multivariate regression estimations using these data offer initial evidence that human recognition is a significant, independent, positive determinant of nutritional status.

To demonstrate how measurement of human recognition can be incorporated into programs and research studies and to empirically test the model’s hypotheses in greater depth, questions specially designed to measure human recognition are included in a randomized, controlled study of malnourished, HIV-infected adults in Kenya. Chapter 4 uses these data to examine the impacts that food supplementation and medical treatment have on human recognition, to identify determinants of human recognition receipt, and to assess whether changes in human recognition are determinants of changes in nutritional status and subjective well-being. Results indicate that food supplementation has a significant, independent, positive impact on human recognition received at completion of 6 months of supplementation, controlling for changes in health and nutritional status, but that this effect does not persist 6 months after supplementation ends. Among study subjects, women receive lower levels of human recognition than men do, and improvements in human recognition are lower among subjects attending clinics serving urban slum areas of Nairobi than among subjects attending district and provincial hospitals outside of Nairobi. There is some evidence of an association between nutritional status and human recognition but further study is needed on this and on the relationship between human recognition and subjective well-being. The empirical applications demonstrate how measurement of human recognition can be feasibly incorporated into research and into program monitoring, and results suggest that consideration of human recognition factors in the design and implementation of program and policy interventions may improve their impacts.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Smith, Stephen C.
Commitee: Carrillo, Paul, Emran, M. Shahe, Joshi, Sumit, Lambright, Gina
School: The George Washington University
Department: Economics
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 70/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economics, Economic theory
Keywords: Economic development, Empowerment, Health, Human recognition, Objectification, Poverty
Publication Number: 3344750
ISBN: 9781109039450