MON 11:00 AM Parallel Session - Social Welfare & Public Policy

Full Report:

Structural Racism and System Dynamics: A Theory and Methodology for Addressing Racial Disparities, by Eric Stiens
Understanding how interactions between apparently race-neutral institutions and policies can produce racial disparities is essential to a Civil Rights Movement in the United States in the 21st Century. Moving from a discourse that focuses on intent as the determining factor in whether racism exists to a discourse that focuses on the existence of racial disparities and the structures that reproduce them requires a new language and vocabulary. Conceptualizing and operationalizing effective interventions that will reduce these disparities requires a new methodology. System dynamics can play a key role in providing both a language and a methodology to better understand the continuing presence of racial disparities across nearly every indicator of wellbeing. Most attempts to reduce racial disparities have met with considerable policy resistance, and modeling work must focus on identifying key leverage points. In this mostly qualitative work, causal-loop diagrams are pulled from relevant research and key reference modes are examined for insights into the structures perpetuating racial hierarchy. A dynamic hypothesis is proposed that the stock of African-Americans living in areas of concentrated poverty is one of the key drivers of racial disparities. Suggestions and opportunities for further modeling and next steps are also outlined.

Judicial Process Dynamics, by Luis Lopez and Porfirio Guevara
Becker (1968) posits the notion that criminals respond, like any other rational agent, to the benefits and costs of their activities. From this notion follows the deterrence hypothesis, the idea that judicial policies can help reduce crime through an increase in the expected costs of illegal activities. Yet, despite implementing the suggestions implied by such models, more and more countries undergo a large escalation of criminal activities. We explore this issue using a longitudinal data set of relevant judicial figures for one country. The data are used to calibrate a system dynamics model. We find that, contrary to what would be ordinarily expected, criminals tend to be punished not exclusively on the basis of their behavior, but in terms of other institutional variables. Our data show that judges and prosecutors are prone to dismiss cases when the backlog to be processed exceeds a threshold, in a manner that much corresponds to the archetype "Shifting the Burden To." A judge’s decisions, which result in potential criminals who are acquitted without apparent reason, create incentives for criminals and others to engage in criminal activities, thus causing crime rates and the backlog of cases to increase further.

The Soft Drugs Debate in the Netherlands: A Qualitative System Dynamics Analysis, by Erik Pruyt
The presenter asked the audience whether we should ban or legalize the soft drug policy. Banning will lead to undesirable drugs and tourism. Legalizing will then go underground, resulting in a total loss of control. The researcher drew causal loop diagrams regarding two policies on soft drugs: the policy of legalizing soft drugs and the policy of banning soft drugs. He demonstrated with the system dynamics model that both banning and legalization are appropriate from the points of view of their respective proponents, but are inappropriate from the opposed points of view. Then he recommended that combined policies may provide a way out and solve one of the strangest gaps in Dutch law.

Chanyeong Kwak