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What motivates paternalism? An experimental study


Ambühl, Sandro; Bernheim, B Douglas; Ockenfels, Axel (2021). What motivates paternalism? An experimental study. American Economic Review, 111(3):787-830.

Abstract

We study experimentally when, why, and how people intervene in others’ choices. Choice Architects (CAs) construct opportunity sets containing bundles of time-indexed payments for Choosers. CAs frequently prevent impatient choices despite opportunities to provide advice, believing Choosers benefit. They violate common behavioral welfare criteria by removing impatient options even when all payoffs are delayed. CAs intervene not by removing options they wish they could resist when choosing for themselves (mistakes-projective paternalism), but rather as if they seek to align others’ choices with their own aspirations (ideals-projective paternalism). Laboratory choices predict subjects’ support for actual paternalistic policies. (JEL C92, D12, D15)

Abstract

We study experimentally when, why, and how people intervene in others’ choices. Choice Architects (CAs) construct opportunity sets containing bundles of time-indexed payments for Choosers. CAs frequently prevent impatient choices despite opportunities to provide advice, believing Choosers benefit. They violate common behavioral welfare criteria by removing impatient options even when all payoffs are delayed. CAs intervene not by removing options they wish they could resist when choosing for themselves (mistakes-projective paternalism), but rather as if they seek to align others’ choices with their own aspirations (ideals-projective paternalism). Laboratory choices predict subjects’ support for actual paternalistic policies. (JEL C92, D12, D15)

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Economics and Econometrics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Economics and Econometrics
Language:English
Date:March 2021
Deposited On:03 Aug 2021 11:03
Last Modified:04 Aug 2021 20:00
Publisher:American Economic Association
ISSN:0002-8282
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.20191039

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