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The Root Causes of Shortsightedness and Their Manifestations in Developing Countries

The Root Causes of Shortsightedness and Their Manifestations in Developing Countries

Chapter:
(p.29) Chapter Two The Root Causes of Shortsightedness and Their Manifestations in Developing Countries
Source:
Bringing in the Future
Author(s):
William Ascher
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226029184.003.0002

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

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