The behavioural economist and the social planner: To whom should behavioural welfare economics be addressed?
AbstractThis paper compares two alternative answers to the question â€˜Who is the addressee of welfare economics?' These answers correspond with different understandings of the status of the normative conclusions of welfare economics, and have different implications for how welfare economics should be adapted in the light of the findings of behavioural economics. The conventional welfarist answer is that welfare economics is addressed to a â€˜social planner' whose objective is to maximise the overall well-being of society; the planner is imagined as a benevolent despot, receptive to the economist's advice. The alternative contractarian answer is that welfare economics is addressed to individuals who are seeking mutually beneficial agreements; a contractarian recommendation has the form â€˜It is in the interests of each of you separately that all of you together agree to do x'. Each of these answers should be understood as a literary convention which uses a highly-simplified model of politics. I defend the contractarian approach and show that it is less supportive of â€˜soft paternalism' than is the welfarist approach.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. in its series Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) with number 12-05.
Date of creation: Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Postal: Helen Chapman, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK
Other versions of this item:
- Robert Sugden, 2011. "The behavioural economist and the social planner: to whom should behavioural welfare economics be addressed?," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2011-21, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Evolutionary Economics Group.
- D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics; Underlying Principles
- D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
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