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Behavioral Welfare Economics

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  • B. Douglas Bernheim

Abstract

This paper discusses several competing proposals for general normative frameworks that would encompass non-standard models of choice. Most existing proposals equate welfare with well-being. Some assume that well-being flows from the achievement of well-defined objectives, and that those objectives also guide choices; the trick is to formulate a framework in which less-than-completely coherent choice patterns reveal the unobserved objectives. Others are predicated on the contention that well-being, and hence welfare, is directly measurable. Both of those approaches encounter serious conceptual difficulties. An alternative approach, developed by Bernheim and Rangel (2009), defines welfare directly in terms of choice. It entails a generalized welfare criterion that respects choice directly, without requiring any rationalization involving potentially unverifiable assumptions concerning underlying objectives and their relationships to choice. Because useful behavioral theories generally envision a substantial degree of underlying coherence in behavior, that criterion leads to a rich and tractable normative framework. (JEL: D01, D60, H40) (c) 2009 by the European Economic Association.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 7 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2-3 (04-05)
Pages: 267-319

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:7:y:2009:i:2-3:p:267-319

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References

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  1. Fon, Vincy & Otani, Yoshihiko, 1979. "Classical welfare theorems with non-transitive and non-complete preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 409-418, June.
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  3. Rigotti, Luca & Shannon, Chris, 2001. "Uncertainty and Risk in Financial Markets," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7pp7113z, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Michael Mandler & Paola Manzini & Marco Mariotti, 2008. "A Million Answers to Twenty Questions: Choosing by Checklist," Working Papers 622, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  6. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2008. "Beyond Revealed Preference: Choice Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," NBER Working Papers 13737, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jonathan Gruber & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "Do Cigarette Taxes Make Smokers Happier?," NBER Working Papers 8872, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
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  18. Per Krusell & Burhanettin Kuruşçu & Anthony A. Smith Jr., 2010. "Temptation and Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(6), pages 2063-2084, November.
  19. Suzumura, Kataro, 1976. "Remarks on the Theory of Collective Choice," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 43(172), pages 381-90, November.
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  22. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
  23. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2009. "Beyond Revealed Preference: Choice-Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics-super-," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(1), pages 51-104, February.
  24. Andrew Caplin & John Leahy, 2001. "Psychological Expected Utility Theory And Anticipatory Feelings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 55-79, February.
  25. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2004. "Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1558-1590, December.
  26. Robert Sugden, 2004. "The Opportunity Criterion: Consumer Sovereignty Without the Assumption of Coherent Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1014-1033, September.
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  28. Asheim, Geir B., 2007. "Procrastination, partial naivete, and behavioral welfare analysis," Memorandum 02/2007, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. JEEA - New Issue
    by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-05-22 14:49:00
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Cited by:
  1. Agee, Mark D. & Crocker, Thomas D., 2013. "Operationalizing the capability approach to assessing well-being," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 80-86.
  2. Fabrizio Adriani & Silvia Sonderegger, . "Evolution of similarity judgements in intertemporal choice," Discussion Papers 2014-06, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Marc Fleurbaey & Erik Schokkaert, 2012. "Behavioral Fair Social Choice," Working Papers 2012-012, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  4. Dalton, Patricio; Ghosal, Sayantan;, 2010. "Decisions with Endogenous Frames," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 30, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  5. Cameron Hepburn & Stephen Duncan & Antonis Papachristodoulou, 2010. "Behavioural Economics, Hyperbolic Discounting and Environmental Policy," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 46(2), pages 189-206, June.
  6. Dalton, Patricio & Ghosal, Sayantan, 2008. "Behavioural Decisions and Welfare," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 834, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.

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