Human Recognition and Economic Development: An Introduction and Theoretical Model

OPHI Working Papers

This paper introduces the concept of human recognition, defined as the extent to which an individual is acknowledged by others to be of inherent value by virtue of being a fellow human being. Following a qualitative exposition of human recognition, a formal model is presented that describes provision and receipt of human recognition, its contribution to utility, its effects on health, and its role in development programs. Key predictions from the model are that human recognition receipt has a positive, causal relationship with utility and health outcomes; that multiple equilibria for human recognition can exist; and that only accounting for human recognition’s instrumental effects on material outcomes while ignoring its direct, psychic effects on utility leads to suboptimal programs. By defining and formally modeling human recognition and its role in economic development for the first time, the paper identifies a new component of economic development and offers an example of how such intangible components can be formally modeled. 

Citation: Castleman, T. (2013). 'Human recognition and economic development: An introduction and theoretical model', OPHI Working Paper 63, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

Also published in Oxford Development Studies, 2016, Vol. 44(2), pp. 135-151.

human recognition, economic development, health, wellbeing, dignity, respect, dehumanisation, humiliation

Tony Castleman
Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
JEL Codes
I31, O15, I14, O10
Publication Number
WP 63