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Behavioural Welfare Economics: Does 'Behavioural Optimality' Matter?


  • Joan Costa-Font


This editorial article argues that the development of behavioural economics gives rise to a wide re-interpretation of the field of welfare economics. More specifically, social efficiency criteria under quasi-rationality might well diverge from that of full rationality. This arguably has at least two effects. First, public policy evaluation, especially standard cost--benefit analysis, ought to be reinterpreted accommodating such 'behavioural optimality' restrictions. Second, the acceptance of 'behavioural market failures' alongside of 'behavioural political failures' can give rise to new reasons for public sector intervention. The papers of this special issue can be seen as paradigmatic examples of the former and/or the latter, and more generally suggest that 'behavioural optimality' cannot be disregarded. (JEL codes: D03, D6) Copyright The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Ifo Institute for Economic Research, Munich. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Joan Costa-Font, 2011. "Behavioural Welfare Economics: Does 'Behavioural Optimality' Matter?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 57(4), pages 551-559, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cesifo:v:57:y:2011:i:4:p:551-559

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:rujoec:v:1:y:2015:i:1:p:81-107 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Matteo M. Galizzi, 2014. "What Is Really Behavioral in Behavioral Health Policy? And Does It Work?," Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 36(1), pages 25-60.
    3. Joan Costa-Font & Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Steven T. Yen, 2013. "Not All Incentives Wash Out the Warm Glow: The Case of Blood Donation Revisited," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(4), pages 529-551, November.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics


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