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Scientific Numerology, Preference Anomalies, and Environmental Policymaking

  • John List

    ()

Recently an abundance of experimental evidence has been gathered that is consonant with the notion that individual preferences are inconsistent and unstable. These empirical results potentially undermine the theoretical foundation of welfare economics, as the degree of preference lability claimed suggests that perhaps no optimization principles underlie even the most straightforward of choices. Yet policymakers in the environmental arena continue to prescribe policies based on economics-based methods that are constructed on the very principles that have been directly refuted. Are policymakers creatures of habit that move at glacial speed or is there something deeper behind their inertness? In this study, I explore this issue within the U.S. context and argue that there is some rationality behind current public policy decisionmaking. I then explore whether the empirical evidence supports the view that policymakers should take preference anomalies seriously. As a case study, I focus on some of my recent findings on preference inconsistencies in the marketplace. Copyright Springer 2005

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10640-005-6027-1
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Article provided by Springer & European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists in its journal Environmental and Resource Economics.

Volume (Year): 32 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (09)
Pages: 35-53

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Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:32:y:2005:i:1:p:35-53
DOI: 10.1007/s10640-005-6027-1
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  1. John List, 2006. "Using hicksian surplus measures to examine consistency of individual preferences: Evidence from a field experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00177, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Knetsch, Jack L., 1990. "Environmental policy implications of disparities between willingness to pay and compensation demanded measures of values," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 227-237, May.
  3. John A. List, 2004. "Neoclassical Theory Versus Prospect Theory: Evidence from the Marketplace," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(2), pages 615-625, 03.
  4. Rowe, Robert D. & D'Arge, Ralph C. & Brookshire, David S., 1980. "An experiment on the economic value of visibility," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 1-19, March.
  5. Huber, Joel & Payne, John W & Puto, Christopher, 1982. " Adding Asymmetrically Dominated Alternatives: Violations of Regularity and the Similarity Hypothesis," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 90-98, June.
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