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The Foundations of Positive and Normative EconomicsA Hand Book$
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Andrew Caplin and Andrew Schotter

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195328318

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328318.001.0001

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The Economist as Therapist: Methodological Ramifications of “Light” Paternalism

The Economist as Therapist: Methodological Ramifications of “Light” Paternalism

Chapter:
(p.210) Chapter 9 The Economist as Therapist: Methodological Ramifications of “Light” Paternalism
Source:
The Foundations of Positive and Normative Economics
Author(s):

GEORGE LOEWNSTEIN

EMILY HAISLEY

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328318.003.0009

As people consider quality and price in deciding what to buy and where to buy stuff, and make other such decisions in consumption, economic behavior is perceived to entail rationality and self-interest. However, there is a side of human behavior that seems to neglect rationality and tends to evoke self-destruction. Such behavior is displayed through making unstable investments, gambling, and activities that involve health risks such as smoking, excessive drinking, and even overeating that leads to obesity. An increasing number of economists are encouraged to look into the ability of people to perform reliable methods that show self-interest because of the developments and new findings in behavioral-economics research. This chapter examines paternalism and how certain acts can be attributed to externalities and internalities.

Keywords:   economic behavior, rationality, self-destructive, health risks, paternalism, externalities, internalities

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