Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Ratio Working Papers,
The Ratio Institute

No 166: Time for behavioral political economy? An analysis of articles in behavioral economics

Niclas Berggren ()
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Niclas Berggren: The Ratio Institute, Postal: The Ratio Institute, P.O. Box 3203, SE-103 64 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: This study analyzes leading research in behavioral economics to see whether it contains advocacy of paternalism and whether it addresses the potential cognitive limitations and biases of the policymakers who are going to implement paternalist policies. The findings reveal that 20.7% of the studied articles in behavioral economics propose paternalist policy action and that 95.5% of these do not contain any analysis of the cognitive ability of policymakers. This suggests that behavioral political economy, in which the analytical tools of behavioral economics are applied to political decision-makers as well, would offer a useful extension of the research program.

Keywords: Behavioral economics; Anomalies; Rationality; Homo economicus; Public choice

JEL-codes: D03; D78

22 pages, May 19, 2011

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