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On the ‘cashing out’ hypothesis and ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ policies

  • Brennan, Geoffrey
  • Brooks, Michael

In the literature on paternalism that has grown out of the behavioural economics ‘revolution’, a distinction is drawn between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ policies. Although this hard/soft distinction seems to be motivated by the thought that the two policy types might have different implications for individual liberty, there is a claim that ‘hard’ policies are normatively superior to ‘soft’ for ‘efficiency’ reasons. We show, by appeal to an esteem-based model of ‘soft’ policy that this claim is not valid in general. We also expose a number of conceptual mistakes in what many seem to have identified as the normative implications of behavioural economics.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 27 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 601-610

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Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:27:y:2011:i:4:p:601-610
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505544

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  1. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
  2. Brennan, Geoffrey & Pettit, Philip, 2004. "The Economy of Esteem: An Essay on Civil and Political Society," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199246489, March.
  3. Aldo Rustichini & Uri Gneezy, 2000. "A fine is a price," Natural Field Experiments 00258, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. Di Tommaso, M. L. & Shima, I. & Strøm, S. & Bettio, F., 2007. "As bad as it gets: Well being deprivation of sexually exploited trafficked women," Memorandum 09/2007, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  5. Kirchgässner, Gebhard, 2010. "On minimal morals," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 330-339, September.
  6. Glaeser, Edward L., 2006. "Paternalism and Psychology," Working Paper Series rwp06-006, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  7. Hollander, Heinz, 1990. "A Social Exchange Approach to Voluntary Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1157-67, December.
  8. Cooter, Robert D., 1998. "Models of Morality in Law and Economics: Self-Control and Self-Improvement for the "Bad Man" of Holmes," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt5dj8m2kf, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  9. Geoffrey Brennan & Michael Brooks, 2007. "Esteem-based contributions and optimality in public goods supply," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 130(3), pages 457-470, March.
  10. Dhammika Dharmapala & Richard H. McAdams, 2003. "The Condorcet Jury Theorem and the Expressive Function of Law: A Theory of Informative Law," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 1-31.
  11. Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 1992. "Towards a theory of low-cost decisions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 305-320, May.
  12. Bykvist, Krister, 2010. "Can Unstable Preferences Provide A Stable Standard Of Well-Being?," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(01), pages 1-26, March.
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