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Future imperfect: behavioural economics and government paternalism

Le Grand, Julian ORCID: 0000-0002-7864-0118 (2018) Future imperfect: behavioural economics and government paternalism. Review of Behavioural Economics, 5 (3-4). pp. 281-290. ISSN 2326-6201

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Identification Number: 10.1561/105.00000093


Economists and others have used the results from behavioral economics to justify paternalistic government policies, aimed at changing an individual’s behavior in the present so as to improve that individual’s well-being in the future. Examples include the automatic enrollment in pension schemes and anti-smoking measures, such as banning smoking in public places or proposals for a smoking license. But these - and the economic analyses underlying them – have been challenged on the grounds that they arbitrarily privilege one set of preferences over another. The privileged preferences include those of an ‘inner rational agent’ and those of the future over the present. This paper addresses this criticism and puts forward two new conceptions of - and justifications for – these kinds of policy.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 The Author
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Date Deposited: 20 Nov 2019 17:00
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2023 16:18

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