Panel Paper: Modeling Dynamic Policy Processes

Friday, November 8, 2013 : 9:45 AM
DuPont Ballroom G (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Robert Glass and Walter E. Beyeler, Sandia National Laboratories
A broad class of policies, especially those related to immigration, international trade, infrastructure construction, education, and research investment, can be understood abstractly as affecting the production and exchange of resources. A general dynamical model of complex systems engaged in such relations can therefore be used to study the outcomes of specific policies, the incentives of different actors in the system to favor particular policies over time, and the reachability of desired social goals when policy-setting is dominated by specific constituencies attending to short-term effects.

We perform such a study using an abstract population of interacting entities with distinctive political dispositions and technological characteristics. These entities may define the terms of their interaction with peers, and can foster or impede interactions among their component entities. We will use hybrid agent-based/system dynamics model to represent these interactions. We study the evolution of this mutual system as different policies are adopted by the top-level entities.

We explicitly search for structures that make "good" policy making (in the sense of improving some aggregate health measure) hard. These structures are conditions in which the policy that helps a "large" sector in the short term pushes the system as a whole away from the "good" outcome. The model has some similarities with economic studies of the comparative merits of open vs. closed markets, but the conventional outcome is not to be expected because the processes of discovery and innovation make “comparative advantage” a dynamical condition, itself responsive to past policy choices.