• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Human Values Depend on Economy

Ronald Inglehart, Scientific Advisor of Laboratory for Comparative Social Research

Ronald Inglehart, Scientific Advisor of Laboratory for Comparative Social Research

On April 18, 6th LCSR International Research Workshop opened within the framework of April International Conference. Ronald Inglehart, the Scientific Advisor of Laboratory for Comparative Social Research delivered an honorary lecture on ‘Reshaping Human Motivations and Society, 1896-2014’. The lecture discussed the correlation between societal transformations and changing values.

From fighting for survival to a welfare state

As types of economy changed, so did the set-up of societies and prevalent values. Hunting and gathering societies are relatively egalitarian: word of mouth communication is sufficient and large differences in private property to not exist. In large agrarian societies, literate elites control communication and organization; a small landowning class dominates a vast majority of illiterate peasants.  Early industrial society was also dominated by a small industrial-commercial elite, producing very high levels of inequality. However, urbanization and mass literacy enabled the working class to mobilize for economic and political bargaining in labor unions and working-class-oriented political parties. Economic inequality declined throughout most of the 20th century.

In recent decades, the world as a whole has experienced the highest rate of economic growth ever recorded. From the 1930s through the 1950s, expanding welfare states reinforced existential security and since 1945, the world has experienced by far the longest period in which there was no war between major powers. A growing share of the world’s population is growing up under conditions of unprecedented economic and physical security.  This is transforming human motivations and behavior and is conducive to increased cultural openness, which leads to less hierarchical, more democratic institutions. Changing values and cultural norms interact with rising education and information access to produce more open, tolerant, and creative societies.

Postmaterialism, declining birth rate, and a shift in male roles

Professor Inglehart focused on three specific examples that illustrate the changes in values. The first dealt with the relative importance of materialism. In 1970, a six-nation survey tested the thesis of intergenerational value change. It found large differences between the extent to which younger and older generations emphasized materialist or post-materialist values. In 1970, materialists outnumbered post-materialists in 6 West European countries by 14:1 among the oldest cohort and by 4:1 among the population as a whole. By 2000, post-materialists were more numerous than materialists. Although the trend has recently stagnated in western countries, the value shift has begun to reshape other parts of the world, for instance, Latin America and ex-communist countries although it is certainly contingent on country’s economic conditions.

The second value analyzed concerned fertility norms. Agrarian societies with their high infant mortality and low life expectancies emphasized pro-fertility values. This was necessary for the survival of a society. The publics of societies that have attained high levels of existential security shift from pro-fertility norms to individual choice norms. This shift is much more advanced in high-income societies than in low-income societies. Economic development brings diminishing support for fertility maximizing norms, and rising tolerance for pro-choice. It should be noted that pro-fertility norms have remained prevalent in ex-communist countries where religion and nationalism filled the vacuum left by the demise of communism.  

The shift from pro-fertility norms to individual-choice norms has led to rising gender equality and to growing acceptance of gays and lesbians. An interesting correlation has been observed between the levels of tolerance for gays, divorce, abortion, gender equality and the severity of laws regulating same-sex marriages.

There is no need to fight any more in order to assert one’s domination.  Conquering the neighbors is no longer a good strategy because it is risky and costly while economic development becomes more beneficial

Finally, Prof Inglehart looked at such value as willingness to fight for one’s country. He explained that throughout history, societies have encouraged young men to demonstrate their fitness through heroic acts of violence, motivating them to risk their lives in war.  The ideal leader used to be the Alpha Male who demands unquestioning obedience in combat. War may provide their only opportunity for sex, with rape and booty being fringe benefits of successful war as societies dominated by pro-fertility norms allowed sex only within marriage, imposing sexual repression on unmarried young men. The shift toward individual-choice norms has resulted in a declining willingness to fight for one’s country – as part of a broad feminization of culture. Additionally, the Long Peace after the WWII reflects the fact that war is no longer profitable.  

The survey of 49 countries showed a pervasive trend towards less willingness to fight for one’s country with Russia and US demonstrating similar rates – around 15%. As Professor Inglehart noted, we are in fact witnessing a shift in male roles. There is no need to fight any more in order to assert one’s domination.  Conquering the neighbors is no longer a good strategy because it is risky and costly while economic development becomes more beneficial. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have been cited as modern role models – leaders who do not need to demonstrate their physical strength to achieve success.

Recent trends

Concluding his talk, Prof Inglehart highlighted the most recent developments. Post-materialists emphasized new non-economic issues that cut across class lines. Causes such as environmental protection, anti-war movements and gender equality became increasingly prominent in the politics of developed societies, and emphasis on economic redistribution declined in political parties’ election campaigns. However, the economic stagnation of recent decades has been reinforced by rising inequality. Globalization and large-scale immigration have given rise to the cultural backlash against post-materialist issues, with authoritarian xenophobic parties rising, from the National Front in France to Donald Trump in the U.S.

Currently the world is witnessing the emergence of artificial intelligence economy with more and more jobs being outsourced to machines that replace humans as economic efficiency dictates job cuts. Today, computer programs are not only replacing low-skilled jobs.  Increasingly, artificial intelligence is replacing lawyers, journalists, academics, doctors, and other highly-educated professionals. Large corporations have taken over the medical profession, computerizing or outsourcing many jobs and reducing professionals to a commodity. This poses specific challenges to humanity as it leads to growing economic inequality with 1% of the population controlling world financial resources.

Currently, the real conflict of interest in advanced industrial societies is no longer between the working class and the middle class. It is between the top one percent and the remaining 99 percent of the population. The electorates have not yet become mobilized along these lines– partly because low-income voters are diverted by non-economic issues such as abortion or same-sex marriage.

Professor Inglehart stressed that democracies are not governed by market forces alone. A coalition based on the 99 percent could redirect the state to reallocate an increasingly large GDP by creating jobs that provide useful roles for humans in health, education, research and development, infrastructure, environmental protection and the arts and humanities with the goal of maximizing the quality of life, instead of blindly maximizing GDP. 

Prepared by Maria Besova

See also:

‘Not Testing the Knowledge, But Testing Whether You Are Ready to Interact with Reality’

The roundtable "Teaching Economics to High School Students: Curricula, Practices, Competitions" took place as part of the XXII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development. Danil Fedorovykh, Deputy Vice Rector of HSE University and the President of the Executive Board of the International Economics Olympiad (IEO), initiated the session. Alexander Zhitkovskiy, Head of the Project Laboratory for Development of Intellectual Competitions in Economics (Faculty of Economic Sciences, HSE University), was the co-moderator.

The Core of the Nesting Doll: What a Comparison of the April Conference, the World Economic Forum, and the Gaidar Forum Reveals

This year the April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development took place for the twenty-second time, and, for the first time, Sberbank joined HSE University as a co-organizer of the event. Research assistants of the Economic Journalism Laboratory, headed by Nikolay Vardul, analyzed the agenda of the April Conference and compared it with those of other major forums. The findings of the study can be found among the laboratory’s publications.

The April Conference, 2021: 1,500 Participants, a Partnership with Sberbank, and an Online Format

On April 30, the XXII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development came to a close. This year it was organized jointly by HSE University and Sberbank, and the majority of the events were held online. HSE Vice President and Conference Programme Committee Deputy Chair Lev Yakobson spoke with HSE News Service about his initial takeaways from the event and its new format.

Russia Remains a Partner for Foreign Scientists

The XXII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development is drawing to a close in Moscow. In an interview with the media partner of the event, NEWS.ru, HSE University Vice Rector Ivan Prostakov spoke about how the format of the conference was organized, how the pandemic impacted the event, and how scientists and experts from different countries regard Russia.

Cyber Performance, PROK Cinema, and Digital Art: The Development of Art and Art Research in the 21st Century

From April 21 to 23, 2021, a major online conference of the HSE Art and Design School and the Doctoral School of Art and Design was held on ‘Theories and Practices of Art and Design: Sociocultural, Economic and Political Contexts.’ Experts discussed educational practices in art, its contemporary state, the impact of technology, and prospects for the art industry’s future development.

Human Capital, Innovation, and Fintech: What the Future Holds for Eurasian Integration

To what extent do the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) benefit from an open economy? What financial, scientific, and educational policy tools will contribute to the implementation of the recently approved ‘Strategic Directions for the Development of Eurasian Economic integration until 2025’? These questions were discussed by participants in a series of expert discussions at the XXII April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development organised by HSE University and Sberbank.

Assessment of Universal Competences: New Approaches to Assessing Soft Skills

In order to remain competitive in the labour market, university graduates must be proficient not only in professional knowledge and skills, but also in a set of universal competences (UC). However, higher education systems face problems in assessing such competences due to a lack of developed approaches and methodologies. A report released by the HSE Institute of Education, ‘An Assessment of Universal Competences as Higher Education Learning Outcomes’, analyses the ways in which these challenges have been addressed in both Russia and abroad.

‘AI Will Apply to All Activities, Having a Great Effect on Economy’

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a fundamental component of many activities in economics and finance in recent years. On April 26,Panos Pardalos, Academic Supervisor at theLaboratory of Algorithms and Technologies for Networks Analysis (LATNA at HSE Nizhny Novgorod) and Distinguished Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Florida, will talk about its impact, future developments and limitations in his honorary lecture Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Economics and Finance.

What Can Make Robots More Human-like?

What is affect and why is it important for humans? How can feelings be defined and what is their relation to emotions and consciousness? What might be used in making a soft robot? Professor Antonio Damasio (University of Southern California, USA) discussed these and other questions in his honorary lecture, entitled 'Feeling, Knowing, and Artificial Intelligence'.The talk was delivered on April 16 at the at the XXII April International Academic Conference held by HSE University jointly with Sberbank.

World Bank Forecasts a Rise in Poverty

General wealth levels in Eastern Europe and Central Asia have been improving since 2012 — poverty has been decreasing. But due to COVID, global poverty levels, including those of these regions, may increase considerably for the first time in two decades. Samuel Freije-Rodriguez, Lead Economist at World Bank, talked about this at the XXII April Conference organized by HSE University and Sberbank.