Economics Explored

Why bad social norms such as FGM can persist

Episode Summary

Experimental economist and Chess Grandmaster Dr David Smerdon explains why bad social norms such as female genital mutilation (FGM) can persist.

Episode Notes

EP105 considers the persistence of bad social norms such as female genital mutilation (FGM). Show host Gene Tunny speaks with University of Queensland Lecturer (i.e. Assistant Professor) Dr David Smerdon about his experimental research on social norms, including fieldwork in Africa relating to FGM.  

About this episode’s guest - Dr David Smerdon

Dr David Smerdon is a Lecturer in the University of Queensland School of Economics. He primarily works in behavioral and development economics. His research involves theory and modelling, experiments in the lab and field, and microeconometric analysis in order to investigate topics at the intersection of these fields.

David earned his PhD from the Tinbergen Institute and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) as a General Sir John Monash scholar, and afterwards worked as a PODER fellow at Bocconi University in Milan. Prior to his academic career, David spent three years working for the Australian Department of Treasury as a policy analyst. Aside from economics, David is also a chess Grandmaster and has represented Australia at seven chess Olympiads.

Links relevant to the conversation

‘Everybody’s doing it’: On the persistence of bad social norms (journal article co-authored by Dr David Smerdon, which contains details of the experiment he ran)

The economic impact of female genital mutilation (an article by David on his FGM research project)

The Institutional Revolution: Measurement and the Economic Emergence of the Modern World by Douglas W. Allen