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The Role of Human Recognition in Economic Development: Theory, Measurement, and Evidence Open Access

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This dissertation introduces the concept of human recognition and examines its role in economic development. Human recognition is defined as the acknowledgement provided to an individual by other individuals, groups, or organizations that he is of inherent value with intrinsic qualities in common with the recognizer, i.e. recognition as a fellow human being. Chapter 1 describes characteristics, sources, and effects of human recognition, and reviews literature on related concepts. Chapter 2 formalizes the concept of human recognition in an economic model that describes provision and receipt of human recognition, its contribution to utility, its effects on health and labor supply, and its role in development programs. Key predictions from the model are that human recognition has a positive effect on utility; multiple equilibria for human recognition can exist; and accounting only for human recognition's instrumental effects on material outcomes while ignoring direct effects on utility leads to suboptimal programs. Chapter 3 presents a measurement framework that organizes the sources of human recognition into three domains of an individual's life: household, community, and institutions. The framework is used to develop an index of indicators to measure human recognition. Multiple observed measures of recognition in each domain are combined using factor analysis, and domain scores are aggregated into a single measure of human recognition. The index is applied to two cross-sectional datasets from India and Kenya, illustrating how recognition can be measured using survey data. Regression results offer initial evidence that human recognition is a significant, independent, positive determinant of nutritional status.In chapter 4 questions specially designed to measure human recognition are included in a randomized, controlled study of malnourished, HIV-infected adults in Kenya. Results indicate that food supplementation has a significant, independent, positive impact on human recognition, controlling for changes in health and nutrition. Women receive lower levels of human recognition than men, and improvements in human recognition are less in urban slum areas than in rural and peri-urban areas. There is some evidence of association between recognition and nutritional status, but further study is needed on this and on the relationship between human recognition and subjective well-being.

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