IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/poleco/v28y2012i2p266-277.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Nudges and norms: On the political economy of soft paternalism

Author

Listed:
  • Schnellenbach, Jan

Abstract

This paper discusses soft (or libertarian) paternalism, as proposed among others by Thaler and Sunstein (2008). It is argued that soft paternalism should not be understood as an efficiency-enhancing, but as a redistributive concept. The relationship between soft paternalism and social norms is discussed in detail. In particular, it is argued that soft paternalism increases the stability of given social norms, which in turn need not be efficient, nor in the material self-interest of a majority of individuals. Soft paternalism is argued to be an essentially conservative concept of policy-making in the sense that it tends to increase the longevity of status quo social norms.

Suggested Citation

  • Schnellenbach, Jan, 2012. "Nudges and norms: On the political economy of soft paternalism," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 266-277.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:28:y:2012:i:2:p:266-277
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2011.12.001
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0176268011001480
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Geoffrey Brennan & Alan Hamlin, 1998. "Expressive voting and electoral equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 149-175, April.
    2. Jay Bhattacharya & Neeraj Sood, 2011. "Who Pays for Obesity?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 139-158, Winter.
    3. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 164-187, February.
    4. Pazner, Elisha A, 1972. "Merit Wants and the Theory of Taxation," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 27(4), pages 460-472.
    5. Akerlof, George A & Dickens, William T, 1982. "The Economic Consequences of Cognitive Dissonance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 307-319, June.
    6. Hill, Brian, 2007. "Three analyses of sour grapes," HEC Research Papers Series 873, HEC Paris.
    7. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    8. Kubler, Dorothea, 2001. "On the Regulation of Social Norms," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 449-476, October.
    9. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
    10. Traxler, Christian, 2010. "Social norms and conditional cooperative taxpayers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 89-103, March.
    11. Besley, Timothy, 1988. "A simple model for merit good arguments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 371-383, April.
    12. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 8-15, February.
    13. Benartzi, Shlomo & Thaler, Richard H & Utkus, Stephen P & Sunstein, Cass R, 2007. "The Law and Economics of Company Stock in 401(k) Plans," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(1), pages 45-79, February.
    14. Wolfram Schlenker & Sofia B. Villas-Boas, 2009. "Consumer and Market Responses to Mad Cow Disease," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(4), pages 1140-1152.
    15. Robert Sugden, 2008. "Why incoherent preferences do not justify paternalism," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 226-248, September.
    16. Aronsson, Thomas & Thunström, Linda, 2008. "A note on optimal paternalism and health capital subsidies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 241-242, December.
    17. Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 1992. "Towards a theory of low-cost decisions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 305-320, May.
    18. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2004. "Addiction and Cue-Triggered Decision Processes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1558-1590, December.
    19. W. Kip Viscusi & Joel Huber & Jason Bell, 2011. "Promoting Recycling: Private Values, Social Norms, and Economic Incentives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 65-70, May.
    20. Hillman, Arye L, 1980. "Notions of Merit Want," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 35(2), pages 212-226.
    21. Kaisa Kotakorpi, 2009. "Paternalism and Tax Competition," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(1), pages 125-149, March.
    22. Brennan, Geoffrey & Brooks, Michael, 2011. "On the ‘cashing out’ hypothesis and ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ policies," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 601-610.
    23. Paul Anand & Alastair Gray, 2009. "Obesity as Market Failure: Could a ‘Deliberative Economy’ Overcome the Problems of Paternalism?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(2), pages 182-190, April.
    24. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
    25. Khwaja, Ahmed & Silverman, Dan & Sloan, Frank & Wang, Yang, 2009. "Are mature smokers misinformed?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 385-397, March.
    26. Jan Schnellenbach, 2004. "Model uncertainty and the rationality of economic policy," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 101-116, January.
    27. Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Do Smokers Underestimate Risks?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1253-1269, December.
    28. Cristina Bicchieri, 2010. "Norms, preferences, and conditional behavior," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 9(3), pages 297-313, August.
    29. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2004. "Social norms and human cooperation," Macroeconomics 0409026, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    30. Glaeser, Edward L., 2006. "Paternalism and Psychology," Working Paper Series rwp06-006, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    31. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Studying Optimal Paternalism, Illustrated by a Model of Sin Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 186-191, May.
    32. Brennan, Geoffrey & McGuire, Thomas, 1975. "Optimal policy choice under uncertainty," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 205-209, February.
    33. Carbonara Emanuela & Parisi Francesco & von Wangenheim Georg, 2008. "Lawmakers as Norm Entrepreneurs," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(3), pages 779-799, December.
    34. Burrows, Paul, 1993. "Patronising Paternalism," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(4), pages 542-572, October.
    35. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
    36. Viscusi, W Kip, 1999. "The Governmental Composition of the Insurance Costs of Smoking," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 575-609, October.
    37. Bryan Caplan, 2001. "Rational Ignorance versus Rational Irrationality," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 3-26, February.
    38. W. Kip Viscusi & Jahn K Hakes, 2008. "Risk Beliefs And Smoking Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(1), pages 45-59, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Jan Schnellenbach & Christian Schubert, 2014. "Behavioral Political Economy: A Survey," CESifo Working Paper Series 4988, CESifo.
    2. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Behavioral political economy: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 395-417.
    3. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2014. "Behavioral public choice: A survey," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/03, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    4. Jan Schnellenbach, 2016. "A Constitutional Economics Perspective on Soft Paternalism," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 135-156, February.
    5. Kirchgässner, Gebhard, 2012. "Sanfter Paternalismus, meritorische Güter, und der normative Individualismus," Economics Working Paper Series 1217, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
    6. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2017. "Soft paternalism, merit goods, and normative individualism," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 125-152, February.
    7. Lades, Leonhard K., 2014. "Impulsive consumption and reflexive thought: Nudging ethical consumer behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 114-128.
    8. Niclas Berggren, 2012. "Time for behavioral political economy? An analysis of articles in behavioral economics," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 25(3), pages 199-221, September.
    9. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 2006. "Optimal sin taxes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(10-11), pages 1825-1849, November.
    10. Wolfgang Kerber, 2014. "Soft Paternalismus und Verbraucherpolitik," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201449, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    11. Jan Schnellenbach, 2019. "Evolving hierarchical preferences and behavioral economic policies," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 178(1), pages 31-52, January.
    12. Clément, Valérie & Moureau, Nathalie & Vidal, Marion, 2009. "À la recherche des biens sous tutelle," L'Actualité Economique, Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 85(4), pages 383-401, décembre.
    13. Stavros A. Drakopoulos & Ioannis Theodossiou, 2016. "Workers’ risk underestimation and occupational health and safety regulation," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 641-656, June.
    14. Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Opportunity And Preference Learning," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(2), pages 275-295, July.
    15. Martin Binder & Leonhard K. Lades, 2015. "Autonomy-Enhancing Paternalism," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(1), pages 3-27, February.
    16. Christian Schubert, 2015. "On the ethics of public nudging: Autonomy and Agency," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201533, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    17. Schubert, Christian, 2017. "Green nudges: Do they work? Are they ethical?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 329-342.
    18. Pasche, Markus, 2014. "Soft Paternalism and Nudging - Critique of the Behavioral Foundations," MPRA Paper 61140, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Haavio, Markus & Kotakorpi, Kaisa, 2011. "The political economy of sin taxes," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 575-594, May.
    20. Dalton, Patricio & Ghosal, Sayantan, 2008. "Behavioural Decisions and Welfare," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 834, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Libertarian paternalism; Soft paternalism; Social norms; Informal institutions; Behavioral political economics; Sour grapes; Expressive behavior;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • D61 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Allocative Efficiency; Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary; Modern Monetary Theory;

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:28:y:2012:i:2:p:266-277. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Nithya Sathishkumar). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505544 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.