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. 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.
    2. Geoffrey Brennan & Alan Hamlin, 1998. "Expressive voting and electoral equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 149-175, April.
    3. Jay Bhattacharya & Neeraj Sood, 2011. "Who Pays for Obesity?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(1), pages 139-158, Winter.
    4. 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.
    5. Pazner, Elisha A, 1972. "Merit Wants and the Theory of Taxation," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 27(4), pages 460-472.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
    9. 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.
    10. Jan Schnellenbach, 2004. "Model uncertainty and the rationality of economic policy," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 101-116, January.
    11. 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.
    12. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard Thaler, 2004. "Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving," Natural Field Experiments 00337, The Field Experiments Website.
    13. Viscusi, W Kip, 1990. "Do Smokers Underestimate Risks?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1253-1269, December.
    14. Cristina Bicchieri, 2010. "Norms, preferences, and conditional behavior," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 9(3), pages 297-313, August.
    15. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2004. "Social norms and human cooperation," Macroeconomics 0409026, EconWPA.
    16. Hill, Brian, 2007. "Three analyses of sour grapes," Les Cahiers de Recherche 873, HEC Paris.
    17. Glaeser, Edward L., 2006. "Paternalism and Psychology," Working Paper Series rwp06-006, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    18. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
    19. 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.
    20. 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.
    21. Brennan, Geoffrey & McGuire, Thomas, 1975. "Optimal policy choice under uncertainty," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 205-209, February.
    22. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
    23. Traxler, Christian, 2010. "Social norms and conditional cooperative taxpayers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 89-103, March.
    24. 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.
    25. 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.
    26. Besley, Timothy, 1988. "A simple model for merit good arguments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 371-383, April.
    27. 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.
    28. Burrows, Paul, 1993. "Patronising Paternalism," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 45(4), pages 542-572, October.
    29. Robert Sugden, 2008. "Why incoherent preferences do not justify paternalism," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 226-248, September.
    30. Aronsson, Thomas & Thunström, Linda, 2008. "A note on optimal paternalism and health capital subsidies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 241-242, December.
    31. Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 1992. "Towards a theory of low-cost decisions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 305-320, May.
    32. 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.
    33. 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.
    34. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
    35. Hillman, Arye L, 1980. "Notions of Merit Want," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 35(2), pages 212-226.
    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. Kaisa Kotakorpi, 2009. "Paternalism and Tax Competition," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 111(1), pages 125-149, March.
    38. Caplan, Bryan, 2001. "Rational Ignorance versus Rational Irrationality," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 3-26.
    39. 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)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Opportunity And Preference Learning," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(02), pages 275-295, July.
    2. 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.
    3. Wolfson, Dirk J., 2014. "Who gets what in environmental policy?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 8-14.
    4. Schubert, Christian, 2017. "Green nudges: Do they work? Are they ethical?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 329-342.
    5. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2017. "Soft paternalism, merit goods, and normative individualism," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 125-152, February.
    6. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Behavioral political economy: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 395-417.
    7. 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).
    8. Martin Binder, 2014. "Should evolutionary economists embrace libertarian paternalism?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 515-539, July.
    9. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2014. "Behavioral public choice: A survey," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/03, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    10. Dold, Malte, 2015. "Condorcet's jury theorem as a rational justification of soft paternalistic consumer policies," Discussion Paper Series 2015-07, University of Freiburg, Wilfried Guth Endowed Chair for Constitutional Political Economy and Competition Policy.
    11. Jan Schnellenbach, 2016. "A Constitutional Economics Perspective on Soft Paternalism," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 135-156, February.
    12. Klump Rainer & Wörsdörfer Manuel, 2015. "Paternalistic Economic Policies: Foundations, Implications and Critical Evaluations," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 66(1), pages 27-60, January.
    13. Laura Levaggi & Rosella Levaggi, 2016. "Welfare analysis of rationing in health care provision," Working papers 39, Società Italiana di Economia Pubblica.
    14. Jaime Torres, Mónica Marcela & Carlsson, Fredrik, 2016. "Social Norms and Information Diffusion in Water-saving Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Colombia," Working Papers in Economics 652, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    15. 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).
    16. Pasche, Markus, 2014. "Soft Paternalism and Nudging - Critique of the Behavioral Foundations," MPRA Paper 61140, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Mira Fischer & Sebastian Lotz, 2014. "Is Soft Paternalism Ethically Legitimate? - The Relevance of Psychological Processes for the Assessment of Nudge-Based Policies," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 05-02, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences.
    18. Christian Schubert, 2014. "Evolutionary economics and the case for a constitutional libertarian paternalism—a comment on Martin Binder, “should evolutionary economists embrace libertarian paternalism?”," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(5), pages 1107-1113, November.
    19. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:286-293 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Martin Binder, 2014. "A constitutional paradigm is not enough—would sovereign citizens really agree to manipulative nudges?—A reply to Christian Schubert," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(5), pages 1115-1120, November.
    21. repec:kap:ijhcfe:v:17:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10754-016-9209-1 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Libertarian paternalism; Soft paternalism; Social norms; Informal institutions; Behavioral political economics; Sour grapes; Expressive behavior;

    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

    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: (Dana Niculescu). 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.