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How the market responds to dynamically inconsistent preferences

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  • Ben McQuillin
  • Robert Sugden

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Abstract

This paper responds to the 'soft paternalist' argument that the findings of behavioural economics make traditional objections to paternalism incoherent. We show that there is a normatively significant sense in which, even if individuals lack coherent preferences, competitive markets are efficient in providing them with opportunities to get what they want. Extending earlier analysis by Sugden, we model a multi-period 'storage economy' and explore the implications of dynamically inconsistent preferences. We show that, despite apparent conflicts of judgement between an individual’s 'selves', competitive markets provide maximal opportunity, and that they do so by facilitating voluntary exchanges between selves.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ben McQuillin & Robert Sugden, 2012. "How the market responds to dynamically inconsistent preferences," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 38(4), pages 617-634, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:38:y:2012:i:4:p:617-634 DOI: 10.1007/s00355-011-0628-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert Sugden, 2004. "The Opportunity Criterion: Consumer Sovereignty Without the Assumption of Coherent Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1014-1033, September.
    2. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel, 2007. "Beyond Revealed Preference Choice Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics," Discussion Papers 07-031, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    3. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    4. Sugden, Robert, 2010. "Opportunity As Mutual Advantage," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(01), pages 47-68, March.
    5. Peter J. Hammond, 2003. "Equal rights to trade and mediate," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 21(2), pages 181-193, October.
    6. Robert Sugden, 2007. "The value of opportunities over time when preferences are unstable," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 29(4), pages 665-682, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Opportunity And Preference Learning," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, pages 275-295.
    2. repec:spr:sochwe:v:48:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s00355-016-1015-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Robert Sugden, 2011. "The behavioural economist and the social planner: to whom should behavioural welfare economics be addressed?," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2011-21, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    4. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2014. "Behavioral public choice: A survey," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/03, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    5. 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.
    6. Robert Sugden, 2014. "Characterising competitive equilibrium in terms of opportunity," Working Papers 14-02, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    7. Schubert Christian & Binder Martin, 2014. "Reconciling Normative and Behavioral Economics: An Application of the “Naturalistic Approach” to the Adaptation Problem," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 234(2-3), pages 350-365, April.

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