昨年初めロバート・シラーのナラティブ経済学に関するAEA会長講演を紹介したことがあったが、表題の昨年5月8日のChicago Booth Review記事(原題は「Economics and the human instinct for storytelling」)でシラーがその内容を平易な言葉で解説している(H/T Economist's ViewのNew Links*1)。

The human species, everywhere you go, is engaged in conversation. We are wired for it: the human brain is built around narratives. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, but that may be something of a misnomer—sapiens means wise. The evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould said we should be called Homo narrator. Your mind is really built for narratives, and especially narratives about other humans. That is why advertisers tend to focus not on a product itself, but rather on somebody doing some human action related to the product.


Now, the people on the floor of the NYSE—who are themselves part of a different narrative, given the preeminence of electronic trading—aren’t stupid. They knew it was just a number that was made up, that the Dow hitting 20,000 wasn’t a result of some new level of fundamental market soundness. But the story wasn’t about the market being fundamentally sound; it was a story about a number, and about the people around that number.
That is narrative economics.
Not everyone is equally proficient at understanding narratives, and economists are among the worst at appreciating them. But what even a lot of historians don’t appreciate is that you can’t understand history unless you understand what the stories were of the people who experienced these historical events. In fact, Ramsay MacMullen, who is a member of the Yale history department, wrote a book called Feelings in History in which he argues that historians could be more attentive to what people really thought during the periods they study.


  • 南北戦争で北部が奴隷解放のために何十万もの人命を犠牲にする覚悟の感情を生み出した奴隷虐待の物語
  • 1920-21年の恐慌で、人々が暴利を貪る企業への怒りによって物を買わなくなる「感情ヒューリスティック(affect heuristic)」をもたらした各種の社会不安
    • 第一次大戦の何倍もの死者をもたらした1918-19年のスペイン風邪
    • それまで新聞を良く賑わせていたニコライ二世とその家族が1917年のロシア革命で一列に並ばされた上で銃殺されたこと
  • 1920年代の繁栄と価値観の変化に対する反動で、1920年代は不道徳な時代だったとする感覚が1929年の大恐慌が長期化する背景となったこと


Why do economists miss the stories behind many of our economic fluctuations? One reason is that economists have a tool kit, and narrative hasn’t traditionally been in it. We view narrative as somebody else’s territory. We do simultaneous equations. We teach general equilibrium theory. That’s fine, but by the time we finish teaching those, we’re tired.
But there is room for economists to do research on narrative economics. We have databases. We can do quantitative analysis. It’s not easy to study the very human phenomena of narratives, but we can collaborate with people in the humanities—people such as literary theorists, who try to understand why some story structures work and others don’t. If we do, and if we make room in our tool kit for narrative, I’m optimistic that in the next 10 or 20 years, we will have a better understanding of economic fluctuations.
なぜ経済学者は、多くの経済的変動の背後にある物語を見逃してしまうのだろうか? 一つの理由は、経済学者は道具箱を持っているが、ナラティブは従来その中に入っていなかった、ということにある。我々はナラティブを別の人々の領分だと考えていた。我々は連立方程式を解き、一般均衡理論を教える、というわけだ。それは結構なことなのだが、そうしたことを教え終わった頃には、我々は疲れ果ててしまっている。



Feelings in History, Ancient and Modern

Feelings in History, Ancient and Modern