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Role Models that Make You Unhappy: Light Paternalism, Social Learning and Welfare

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  • Christian Cordes

    ()

  • Christian Schubert

    ()

Abstract

Behavioral (e.g. consumption) patterns of boundedly rational agents can lead these agents into learning dynamics that appear to be “wasteful†in terms of well-being or welfare. Within settings displaying preference endogeneity, it is however still unclear how to conceptualize well-being. This paper contributes to the discussion by suggesting a formal model of preference learning that can inform the construction of alternative notions of dynamic well-being. Based on the assumption that interacting agents are subject to two biases that make them systematically prefer some cultural variants over others, a procedural notion of well-being can be developed, based on the idea that policy should identify and confine conditions that generate dynamic instability in preference trajectories.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group in its series Papers on Economics and Evolution with number 2010-22.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:esi:evopap:2010-22

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Keywords: Social Learning; Preference Change; Welfare; Human Cognition; Consumer Behavior Length 33 pages;

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References

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  1. Joseph E. Harrington & Jr., 1999. "Rigidity of Social Systems," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(1), pages 40-64, February.
  2. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2006. "Honestly, why are you driving a BMW?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 129-146, June.
  3. DiTella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert & Oswald, Andrew J., 2001. "Preferences over inflation and unemployment: Evidence from surveys of happiness," ZEI Working Papers B 03-2001, ZEI - Center for European Integration Studies, University of Bonn.
  4. De Fraja, Gianni, 2009. "The origin of utility: Sexual selection and conspicuous consumption," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 51-69, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Christian Schubert, 2012. "Opportunity and Preference Learning," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-08, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  2. Christian Schubert, 2012. "Is novelty always a good thing? Towards an evolutionary welfare economics," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 585-619, July.
  3. Leonhard K. Lades, 2012. "Impulsive Consumption and Reflexive Thought: Nudging Ethical Consumer Behavior," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2012-03, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
  4. Cordes, Christian & Schwesinger, Georg, 2014. "Technological diffusion and preference learning in the world of Homo sustinens: The challenges for politics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 191-200.
  5. Martin Binder & Leonhard K. Lades, 2013. "Autonomy-enhancing paternalism," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2013-04, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.

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