IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

When Does Libertarian Paternalism Work?


  • Bruce Ian Carlin
  • Simon Gervais
  • Gustavo Manso


We develop a theoretical model to study the effects of libertarian paternalism on knowledge acquisition and social learning. Individuals in our model are permitted to appreciate and use the information content in the default options set by the government. We show that in some settings libertarian paternalism may decrease welfare because default options slow information aggregation in the market. We also analyze what happens when the government acquires imprecise information about individuals, and characterize its incentives to avoid full disclosure of its information to the market, even when it has perfect information. Finally, we consider a market in which individuals can sell their information to others and show that the presence of default options causes the quality of advice to decrease, which may lower social welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Ian Carlin & Simon Gervais & Gustavo Manso, 2009. "When Does Libertarian Paternalism Work?," NBER Working Papers 15139, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15139
    Note: CF LE PE POL

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. V. Smith & Eric Moore, 2010. "Behavioral Economics and Benefit Cost Analysis," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 46(2), pages 217-234, June.
    2. Martin Binder, 2014. "Should evolutionary economists embrace libertarian paternalism?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 515-539, July.
    3. SATO, Motohiro & SAITO, Makoto, 2011. "The context effect in the choice of earthquake insurance contracts in Japan," Discussion Papers 2011-10, Graduate School of Economics, Hitotsubashi University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15139. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.