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Blind spots in policy analysis: What economics doesn't say about energy use


  • Paul C. Stern


This article describes the difficulties of reducing analysis of energy use to an application of economic theory. It shows how economic concepts of behavior direct attention selectively to some important determinants of consumer behavior and away from others; how available economic accounts of short-term change in energy use, investment in energy efficiency, and the dynamics of investment limit understanding and narrow analysts' vision; how promising policy options are overlooked as a result; and how concepts and knowledge from the noneconomic behavioral sciences can compensate. Two strategies are discussed for improving analysis. Using economic theory to guide the improvement of existing models can help, conceptual blind spots will remain. A problem-oriented approach drawing on concepts and methods from across the behavioral sciences can avoid the blind spots, but cannot be systematic. Analysis can be improved by using both approaches in concert; some implications of a combined strategy are sketched.

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  • Paul C. Stern, 1986. "Blind spots in policy analysis: What economics doesn't say about energy use," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 5(2), pages 200-227.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:5:y:1986:i:2:p:200-227 DOI: 10.1002/pam.4050050202

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Noel Gaston & Daniel Trefler, 1997. "The Labour Market Consequences of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 30(1), pages 18-41, February.
    2. Meyer, Bruce D, 1996. "What Have We Learned from the Illinois Reemployment Bonus Experiment?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 26-51, January.
    3. Atkinson, Anthony B & Micklewright, John, 1991. "Unemployment Compensation and Labor Market Transitions: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1679-1727, December.
    4. Howard S. Bloom, 1990. "Back to Work: Testing Reemployment Services for Displaced Workers," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number btw, November.
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