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What is Complexity Economics?

As a discipline, economics is generally thought of as the study of scarcity. Economists study how groups and individuals decide how to use their resources and systems of production. They create theories on how to maximize growth and measure how general society fares over time. So what is complexity economics and what does it add to the discussion? By some definitions, it is simply the exploring the discipline of economics with the application of complexity science techniques.

In fact, it looks at the economy not as a system seeking equilibrium. Rather, it considers the economic system to be one that is many systems interacting with one another in unknowable ways and spontaneously forming self-sustaining pockets and are in constant flux. As a result, it uses computational and mathematical models to explore how economic structure is constantly forming and reforming based on the interactions happening by individuals and groups in the economy.

On May 4, 2022, Cory Massimino interviewed Dr. Abigail Devereaux, Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Economic Growth (ISEG), on Center for a Stateless Society’s Mutual Exchange Radio. Dr. Devereaux gives background on her inspirations as a scholar, and where she sees the field of economics heading. In addition, she discusses the connections between complexity economics, systems theory, emergent order, science fiction, and more.


There are ways of thinking about the world that transcend what we might call any kind of specific way of thinking. That we can’t quite constrain in to a consistent theory from which all statements in a theory are deduced from some firm set of axioms. Rather, ascetics is changeable and flows. It is flexible and it allows you to innovate, imagine and do things that specifically outside some kind of a logical box. Because of course, logic isn’t just one thing. There are many logics. Logic is self created.

Dr. Abigail Devereaux
Research Fellow

Discover all this and more on the episode “Abigail Devereaux on Complexity Economics”. Listen to Dr. Devereaux’s appearance online at Center for a Stateless Society.