Behavioral Economics and Climate Change Policy
AbstractThe policy recommendations of most economists are based on the rational actor model of human behavior. Behavior is assumed to be self-regarding, preferences are assumed to be stable, and decisions are assumed to be unaffected by social context or frame of reference. The related fields of behavioral economics, game theory, and neuroscience have confirmed that human behavior is other regarding, and that people exhibit systematic patterns of decision-making that are "irrational" according to the standard behavioral model. This paper takes the position that it is these "irrational" patterns of behavior that uniquely define human decision making and that effective economic policies must take these behaviors as the starting point. This argument is supported by game theory experiments involving humans, closely related primates, and other animals with more limited cognitive ability. The policy focus of the paper is global climate change. The research surveyed in this paper suggests that the standard economic approach to climate change policy, with its almost exclusive emphasis on rational responses to monetary incentives, is seriously flawed. In fact, monetary incentives may actually be counter-productive. Humans are unique among animal species in their ability to cooperate across cultures, geographical space and generations. Tapping into this uniquely human attribute, and understanding how cooperation is enforced, holds the key to limiting the potentially calamitous effects of global climate change.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics in its series Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics with number 0701.
Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Other versions of this item:
- C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
- D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
- D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
- D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
- Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-01-28 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2007-01-28 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-ENE-2007-01-28 (Energy Economics)
- NEP-ENV-2007-01-28 (Environmental Economics)
- NEP-EVO-2007-01-28 (Evolutionary Economics)
- NEP-NEU-2007-01-28 (Neuroeconomics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- van den Bergh, Jeroen C. J. M., 2004. "Optimal climate policy is a utopia: from quantitative to qualitative cost-benefit analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 385-393, April.
- Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1997.
"A Case for Happiness, Cardinalism, and Interpersonal Comparability,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1848-58, November.
- Yew-Kwang, Ng, 1997. "A case for Happiness, Cardinalism, and Interpersonal Comparability," Departmental Working Papers _081, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics.
- Kahn, James Randall & Franceschi, Dina, 2006. "Beyond Kyoto: A tax-based system for the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(4), pages 778-787, July.
- Karp, Larry, 2004.
"Global Warming and Hyperbolic Discounting,"
Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series
qt5zh730nc, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
- Glimcher, Paul W. & Dorris, Michael C. & Bayer, Hannah M., 2005. "Physiological utility theory and the neuroeconomics of choice," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 213-256, August.
- Paavola, Jouni & Adger, W. Neil, 2006. "Fair adaptation to climate change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 594-609, April.
- Martin L. Weitzman, 1998.
Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers
1843, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Chichilnisky, Graciela & Beltratti, Andrea & Heal, Geoffrey, 1998. "Sustainable use of renewable resources, Chapter 2.1," MPRA Paper 8815, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Laibson, David I., 1997.
"Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting,"
4481499, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Daniel Kahneman & Alan B. Krueger, 2006. "Developments in the Measurement of Subjective Well-Being," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
- Gowdy, John & Iorgulescu, Raluca & Onyeiwu, Stephen, 2003. "Fairness and retaliation in a rural Nigerian village," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 469-479, December.
- Ariel Rubinstein, 2003. ""Economics and Psychology"? The Case of Hyperbolic Discounting," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1207-1216, November.
- Stiglitz Joseph, 2006. "A New Agenda for Global Warming," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 3(7), pages 1-4, July.
- Gowdy, John M., 2004. "Altruism, evolution, and welfare economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 69-73, January.
- William D. Nordhaus, 2007. "A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 45(3), pages 686-702, September.
- Norgaard, Richard B., 1989. "The case for methodological pluralism," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 37-57, February.
- Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-55, September.
- J�rg Rieskamp & Jerome R. Busemeyer & Barbara A. Mellers, 2006. "Extending the Bounds of Rationality: Evidence and Theories of Preferential Choice," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 631-661, September.
- Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
- John M. Gowdy, 2003.
"The Revolution in Welfare Economics and its Implications for Environmental Valuation and Policy,"
Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics
0315, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
- John M. Gowdy, 2004. "The Revolution in Welfare Economics and Its Implications for Environmental Valuation and Policy," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 80(2), pages 239-257.
- Howarth, Richard B., 2006. "Optimal environmental taxes under relative consumption effects," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 209-219, June.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979.
"Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,"
Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
- John O'Neill & Clive L. Spash, 2000. "Conceptions of Value in Environmental Decision-Making," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 9(4), pages 521-536, November.
- Whyte, Glen, 1993. "Escalating Commitment in Individual and Group Decision Making: A Prospect Theory Approach," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 430-455, April.
- Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
- On Amir & Dan Ariely & Alan Cooke & David Dunning & Nicholas Epley & Uri Gneezy & Botond Koszegi & Donald Lichtenstein & Nina Mazar & Sendhil Mullainathan & Drazen Prelec & Eldar Shafir & Jose Silva, 2005. "Psychology, Behavioral Economics, and Public Policy," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 443-454, December.
- Hall, Darwin C. & Behl, Richard J., 2006. "Integrating economic analysis and the science of climate instability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(3), pages 442-465, May.
- Ng, Yew-Kwang, 1987. "Diamonds Are a Government's Best Friend: Burden-Free Taxes on Goods Valued for Their Values," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 186-91, March.
- Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 2006. "Behavioral Economics Comes of Age: A Review Essay on Advances in Behavioral Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 712-721, September.
- Daniel Kahneman & Robert Sugden, 2005. "Experienced Utility as a Standard of Policy Evaluation," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(1), pages 161-181, 09.
- Daniel Kahneman, 2003. "A Psychological Perspective on Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 162-168, May.
- Gintis, Herbert, 2000. "Beyond Homo economicus: evidence from experimental economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 311-322, December.
- Markus Pasche, 2013. "What Can be Learned from Behavioural Economics for Environmental Policy?," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-020, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
- Hirazawa, Makoto & Saito, Koichi & Yakita, Akira, 2011. "Effects of international sharing of pollution abatement burdens on income inequality among countries," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1615-1625, October.
- Alessandro Tavoni, 2009. "Incorporating Fairness Motives into the Impulse Balance Equilibrium and Quantal Response Equilibrium Concepts: An Application to 2x2 Games," Working Papers 2009.40, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
- Welsch, Heinz, 2009. "Implications of happiness research for environmental economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(11), pages 2735-2742, September.
- Alessandro Tavoni & Maja Schlüter & Simon Levin, 2011. "The survival of the conformist: social pressure and renewable resource management," Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers 35, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
- John Gowdy & Aneel Salman, 2007. "Climate Change and Economic Development: A Pragmatic Approach (Invited Lecture)," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 46(4), pages 337-350.
- Elisabeth Gsottbauer & Jeroen den Bergh, 2013. "Bounded rationality and social interaction in negotiating a climate agreement," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 225-249, September.
- John M. Gowdy, 2010. "Behavioral economics, neuroeconomics, and climate change policy: baseline review for the garrison institute initiative on climate change," Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics 1010, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
- Elisabeth Gsottbauer & Jeroen Bergh, 2011. "Environmental Policy Theory Given Bounded Rationality and Other-regarding Preferences," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 49(2), pages 263-304, June.
- Nathalie Lazaric & Kevin Maréchal, 2010. "Overcoming inertia: insights from evolutionary economics into improved energy and climate policy," Post-Print hal-00452205, HAL.
- Alessandro Tavoni & Maja Schlüter & Simon Levin, 2011. "The survival of the conformist: social pressure and renewable resource management," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 37571, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Mzoughi, Naoufel, 2011. "Farmers adoption of integrated crop protection and organic farming: Do moral and social concerns matter?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(8), pages 1536-1545, June.
- Beretti, Antoine & Figuières, Charles & Grolleau, Gilles, 2013. "Behavioral innovations: The missing capital in sustainable development?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 187-195.
- Anderson, Blake & M'Gonigle, Michael, 2012. "Does ecological economics have a future?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 37-48.
- John M. Gowdy, . "Valuing Nature For Climate Change Policy: From Discounting The Future To Truly Social Deliberation," Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics 1201, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (John Heim) The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask John Heim to update the entry or send us the correct address.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.