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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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  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. Dalton, Patricio; Ghosal, Sayantan;, 2010. "Decisions with Endogenous Frames," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 30, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  2. Dalton, Patricio; Ghosal, Sayantan, 2010. "Behavioural Decisions and Welfare," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 06, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  3. FLEURBAEY, Marc & SCHOKKAERT, Erik, 2011. "Behavioral fair social choice," CORE Discussion Papers 2011043, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  4. 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.
  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. 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.

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