When human communities subsisted as hunter-gatherers, we recognized the evolutionary benefit of fairness. As our social nature evolved to living in settled communities, some people started having more than others. We accepted a certain level of inequality–as long as everyone had enough. But that begs the question: what is the fair distribution of social goods? In other words, what levels of inequality are people willing to live with?
Our social nature is the basis for marketing public and social goods. How effective we are in social interactions directly influences the success of our marketing and ultimately whether we succeed in our social mission. Here’s the research-proven way to win more cooperation:
People in poverty lack money. It seems obvious that the best way to end their poverty is to give them money. Increasingly, studies support this obvious approach to reducing poverty. Yet the vast majority of poverty-reduction organizations and agencies offer goods and services, not cash. What is the impact on nonprofits of giving cash to poor people?
To continue bringing you topics of interest in the new year, I took a look back at what you read the most this year. Here are the top five posts published in 2016, as measured by your views:
In the public and social spheres, creating and publishing white papers is an avenue to attract new partners and funders, document a problem you want to highlight or solve, influence policy, summarize your work, and make scientific findings more accessible to non-research community. Download this template to add to your toolkit of promotion.
During flu season it’s good to remember that we’re social animals. Our social standing directly impacts our well-being; inequality and health are linked.
The relationship between status and health showed up clearly in the Whitehall studies in the U.K. The first study tracked the health of men in the British civil service over a ten-year period. It found a strong, inverse relationship between rank in the hierarchy and death rates from coronary disease. Executives atop of the civil service enjoyed much better health than the menial workers at the bottom.
The United States has a higher proportion of children living in poverty than Russia–that’s just one interesting statistic from a recent New York Times article on child poverty. The US has this dismal distinction despite giving tax credits and personal tax exemptions for children as ways to combat poverty.
There’s a fundamental flaw with tax credits. Credits benefit people who earn relatively more money and therefore pay relatively more in taxes. Credits don’t do much for children in the poorest of families. The poorest 20 percent of families receive just $120 per year in benefit from the potential $1,000 child tax credit.
The United States recently elected billionaire businessman Donald Trump as its 45th president. Trump has no prior experience in government, and campaigned in part on his business track record. Voters seemed to like that, apparently thinking that government needs to run more like a business.
While government can certainly learn from business, it’s important to note that government is different than business. President Obama contrasted the two well, as described in a recent Los Angeles Times article. The difference between the two relates to the difference between social goods and private goods.
“The roots of altruism and compassion are just as much as part of human nature as cruelty and violence, maybe even more so.”
When she was 19, Abigail Marsh was rescued by a stranger after a freeway car accident. She had swerved her car to avoid hitting a dog. Her car hit the dog anyway, fishtailed, spun until she was facing ongoing traffic in the inside lane, then died. A stranger ran across four lanes of traffic in the dark to help her. He got her car started and turned facing the right direction. Once Abigail was safe and able to be on her way, the stranger left. He never mentioned his name.
In a previous post I wrote about basic income, the idea that everyone in a society receives money for simple expenses such as food and housing, regardless of whether they work or not. Trends in demographics and technology are driving the idea of and need for basic income.
To many in the United States, this notion probably seems at least farfetched, if not lunacy.
This blog is premised on our social nature and our innate sense of fairness. Those impulses lead to the design, distribution, pricing and promotion of social goods, or marketing the social good. Trends in demographics and technology are pointing to a major change in our society where there are more people than jobs. As social beings concerned with fairness, should we provide universal basic income for everyone, regardless of whether they work?