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Behavioural Economics and Policy making,Learning from the Early Adopters

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  • PETER D.LUNN

    (Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin. Trinity College, Dublin)

Abstract

This paper critically examines initial applications of Behavioural Economics (BE) to policymaking. It focuses primarily but not exclusively on what can be learnt from the early adopters of policies inspired by BE, notably America and Britain. BE is defined by its inductive scientific approach to economics, which can produce empirical demonstrations that are persuasive to policymakers facing practical problems. The analysis identifies three routes via which BE has influenced policy: (1) the theory of libertarian paternalism (“nudges”), (2) the provision of toolkits for policymakers seeking behavioural change, and (3) the expansion of the skill-set of applied economists (and scientists in related disciplines). The effectiveness of each route is assessed, in terms of the likelihood of successfully integrating scientific advances with policy development. The analysis concludes that (3) is the only route that can adapt to the ongoing and rapid evolution of what is a young science. Successful policy development is more likely where there is expert input and the capacity to engage in applied experimentation, piloting and evaluation. The implication is that countries, including Ireland, are more likely to reap the benefits of BE if they create an active and effective interface between applied economists and policymakers.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter D.Lunn, 2012. "Behavioural Economics and Policy making,Learning from the Early Adopters," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 43(3), pages 423-449.
  • Handle: RePEc:eso:journl:v:43:y:2012:i:3:p:423-449
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    Cited by:

    1. Joram Nanne Pieter Feitsma, 2018. "The behavioural state: critical observations on technocracy and psychocracy," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 51(3), pages 387-410, September.
    2. Muyi Yang & Yuanying Chi & Kristy Mamaril & Adam Berry & Xunpeng Shi & Liming Zhu, 2020. "Communication-Based Approach for Promoting Energy Consumer Switching: Some Evidence from Ofgem’s Database Trials in the United Kingdom," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(19), pages 1-16, October.
    3. Lunn, Pete & Bohacek, Marek & Somerville, Jason & Ni Choisdealbha, Aine & McGowan, Feidhlim, 2016. "PRICE Lab: An Investigation of Consumers’ Capabilities with Complex Products," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT306.
    4. Peter Lunn, 2015. "Are Consumer Decision-Making Phenomena a Fourth Market Failure?," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 315-330, September.

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