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Libertarian Paternalism Is Not An Oxymoron

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  • Sunstein, Cass R.
  • Thaler, Richard H.

Abstract

Cass R. Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler assert that while the idea of libertarian paternalism might seem to be an oxymoron, it is both possible and legitimate for private and public institutions to affect behavior while also respecting freedom of choice. Often people's preferences are ill-formed, and their choices will inevitably be influenced by default rules, framing effects, and starting points. In these circumstances, a form of paternalism cannot be avoided. Equipped with an understanding of behavioral findings of bounded rationality and bounded self-control, libertarian paternalists should attempt to steer people's choices in welfare-promoting directions without eliminating freedom of choice. Sunstein and Thaler argue that it is also possible to show how a libertarian paternalist might select among the possible options and to assess how much choice to offer. This paper gives examplesfrom many areas, including savings behavior, labor law, and consumer protection.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 320.

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Date of creation: Apr 2003
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Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:320

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Web page: http://regulation2point0.org/

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