The topic of this book is related to the rising field of behavioral public policymaking. Scholars belonging to this movement propose policy interventions that address systematic and predictable violations of rationality to steer agents’ behavior in directions that are self-beneficial, possibly without limiting individual autonomy or restricting freedom of choice. The intuition at the basis of behavioral public policies is that humans are characterized by limited cognitive abilities and their choices are often influenced by details not included in models of standard decision-making. Therefore, the policy analyst that is able to identify, explain and predict nonstandard behavioral regularities could make use of this knowledge to promote welfare-improving policies. The interest surrounding behavioral public policies comes from the fact that its proposals are easy to implement, relatively cheap and in many cases respectful of individual freedom of choice. This book proposes a detailed introduction to behavioral public policymaking and three original contributions. The introductory chapter focuses on specific issues of welfare analysis. Welfare analysis is a two steps procedure. First, the analyst determines how a policy affects individuals’ well-being. Second, the analyst aggregates the well-being across individuals. In the remaining sections of the introduction, I focus on the first step of the procedure. I propose an overview of the literature and of the still open debate regarding this issue between behavioral science scholars. I focus on the second step of the welfare analysis procedure in chapter 2. Beside introducing and discussing the problem of aggregation of individuals’ utility and proposing an overview of the literature, in this chapter I also suggest a methodological contribution concerning the social analyst’s choice of the social welfare function. In chapter 3 and 4 I discuss two innovative policies that make use of behavioral regularities in order to increase social welfare.

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L.T. Visscher (Louis) , F. Parisi (Francesca)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
This thesis was written as part of the European Doctorate in Law and Economics programme
EDLE - The European Doctorate in Law and Economics programme
Erasmus School of Law

Fabbri, M. (2014, December 15). Social Welfare and Behavioral Public Policies. EDLE - The European Doctorate in Law and Economics programme. Retrieved from

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