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Role models that make you unhappy: light paternalism, social learning, and welfare

  • SCHUBERT, CHRISTIAN
  • CORDES, CHRISTIAN

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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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Journal of Institutional Economics.

Volume (Year): 9 (2013)
Issue (Month): 02 (June)
Pages: 131-159

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jinsec:v:9:y:2013:i:02:p:131-159_00
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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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