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Die Psychologie irrationaler Wirtschaftspolitik am Beispiel des Reformstaus


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  • Heinemann, Friedrich


Psychologische Studien belegen vielfältige Abweichungen menschlicher Denk- und Verhaltensweisen von den üblichen Rationalitätsannahmen ökonomischer Modelle. Die traditionelle Ökonomie begegnet diesen Hinweisen begrenzter Rationalität mit Zurückhaltung, auch wenn derartige Ansätze inzwischen auf einzelnen Gebieten, wie etwa der Finanzmarktanalyse im Rahmen der Behavioural Finance Akzeptanz gewinnen. Um so mehr erstaunt es, dass psychologische Einsichten noch kaum Eingang in die Analyse der Wirtschaftspolitik gefunden haben, wo ja nicht einmal das Korrektiv der Märkte zur Rationalität zwingt. Der Wähler hat kaum Anreize zu einer rationalen Beurteilung wirtschaftspolitischer Programme, da seine individuelle Wahlentscheidung praktisch keinen Einfluss auf die Qualität der Wirtschaftspolitik hat. In der politökonomischen Analyse hat dies Kalkül unter dem Terminus der ?rationalen Ignoranz? einen festen Platz. Mit der gleichen Begründung, mit der ein geringer Informationsstand des Wählers für rational erklärt wird, kann nun aber auch die ?rationale Irrationalität? begründet werden: Kein Wähler wird individuell dafür bestraft, wenn er die Beurteilung wirtschaftspolitischer Optionen auf Basis angeborener Instinkte und nicht auf der Grundlage eines Rationalitätskalküls vornimmt. Wenn derartige Irrationalitäten schon eine hilfreiche Rolle zur Erklärung von Verhaltensweisen unter Marktbedingungen etwa im Rahmen der Behavioural Finance spielen, dann ist auch ein Erkenntnisbeitrag bei der Analyse wirtschaftspolitischer Verhaltensweisen zu erwarten. -- Mainstream economists are reluctant to integrate features of bounded rationality into their behavioural assumptions. However, particularly in the field of economic policy the scope for irrational behaviour is given, since voters lack incentives for rational reasoning concerning their voting decision. The explanatory power of irrational behaviour is demonstrated for the example of reform resistance. Status quo preferences, endowment effects and loss aversion are typical deviations from full rationality and explain resistance against beneficial reforms even if there is full information. From this psychological perspective, a major precondition for the implementation of reforms is the loss of the status quo as an available option. This loss might result from changing external constraints caused by political integration (European Union) or market integration (globalisation). Test runs of policy options might also be helpful for overcoming psychological reform resistance.

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Paper provided by ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research in its series ZEW Discussion Papers with number 00-12.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:zewdip:5287

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  1. John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
  2. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S251-78, October.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Allan Drazen, 1989. "Why are Stabilizations Delayed?," NBER Working Papers 3053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
  5. Smith, Vernon L, 1991. "Rational Choice: The Contrast between Economics and Psychology," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(4), pages 877-97, August.
  6. Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8jd5z5j2, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  7. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. " Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
  8. Smith, Vernon L & Walker, James M, 1993. "Monetary Rewards and Decision Cost in Experimental Economics," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(2), pages 245-61, April.
  9. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-61, November.
  10. Dani Rodrik, 1996. "Understanding Economic Policy Reform," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 9-41, March.
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Cited by:
  1. Friedrich Heinemann & Michael Förg & Eva Jonas & Eva Traut-Mattausch, 2008. "Psychologische Restriktionen wirtschaftspolitischer Reformen," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 9(4), pages 383-404, November.
  2. Heinemann, Friedrich, 2004. "Explaining Reform Deadlocks," ZEW Discussion Papers 04-39, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.


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