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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1119325
 
 

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Little Brother is Watching You: New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes


Mario J. Rizzo


New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics

Douglas Glen Whitman


California State University, Northridge - Department of Economics

April 8, 2008

NYU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-12
NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-15

Abstract:     
The new paternalism claims that careful policy interventions can help people make better decisions in terms of their own welfare, with only mild or nonexistent infringement of personal autonomy and choice. This claim to moderation is not sustainable. Applying the insights of the modern literature on slippery slopes to new paternalist policies suggests that such policies are particularly vulnerable to expansion. This is true even if policymakers are fully rational. More importantly, the slippery-slope potential is especially great if policymakers are not fully rational, but instead share the behavioral and cognitive biases attributed to the people their policies are supposed to help. Accepting the new paternalist approach creates a risk of accepting, in the long run, greater restrictions on individual autonomy than have been heretofore acknowledged.

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Date posted: April 18, 2008 ; Last revised: March 6, 2009

Suggested Citation

Rizzo, Mario J. and Whitman, Douglas Glen, Little Brother is Watching You: New Paternalism on the Slippery Slopes (April 8, 2008). NYU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 08-12; NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-15. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1119325 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1119325

Contact Information

Mario J. Rizzo (Contact Author)
New York University (NYU) - Department of Economics ( email )
269 Mercer Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10011
United States
212-998-8932 (Phone)
212-995-4186 (Fax)
Douglas Glen Whitman
California State University, Northridge - Department of Economics ( email )
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330
United States
818-677-4542 (Phone)
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