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Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: A Preference-based Lucas Critique of Public Policy

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  • Samuel Bowles
  • Sandra Polanía Reyes

Abstract

Policies and explicit private incentives designed for self-regarding individuals sometimes are less effective or even counterproductive when they diminish altruism, ethical norms and other social preferences. Evidence from 51 experimental studies indicates that this crowding out effect is pervasive, and that crowding in also occurs. A model in which self-regarding and social preferences may be either substitutes or complements is developed and evidence for the mechanisms underlying this non-additivity feature of preferences is provided. The result is a preference-based analogue to the Lucas Critique restricting feasible implementation to allocations that are supportable given the effect of incentives on preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Bowles & Sandra Polanía Reyes, 2009. "Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: A Preference-based Lucas Critique of Public Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 2734, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2734
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      by Nick Krafft in open economics on 2010-07-20 03:02:57

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    Cited by:

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    public goods; behavioural experiments; social preferences; second best; motivational crowding; explicit incentives;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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