Obesity as Market Failure: Could a ‘Deliberative Economy’ Overcome the Problems of Paternalism?

9 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2009

See all articles by Paul Anand

Paul Anand

The Open University - Department of Economics; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS); IZA; University of Oxford

Alastair Gray

University of Oxford - Health Economics Research Centre (HERC)

Abstract

The paper argues that the problem of obesity can usefully be seen as illustrating a new kind of market failure. At the heart of such failures is the emergence of a sub-optimal choice environment which, though derived from a large number of small individual optimising decisions, is not the choice environment that people would choose if they were able to choose the environment itself. This idea is claimed to be consistent with modern economic theories of freedom of choice and applicable particularly to choice environments that emerge in highly competitive market situations. The retail supply of food and consumer credit is discussed by way of example. Concluding, the paper develops the concept of a ‘deliberative economy’ as an alternative to liberal paternalism and explores conditions under which such an approach to social choice might deliver desirable outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Anand, Paul and Gray, Alastair, Obesity as Market Failure: Could a ‘Deliberative Economy’ Overcome the Problems of Paternalism?. Kyklos, Vol. 62, Issue 2, pp. 182-190, April 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1395052 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6435.2009.00430.x

Paul Anand (Contact Author)

The Open University - Department of Economics ( email )

Walton Hall
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
United Kingdom

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science (CPNSS) ( email )

United Kingdom

IZA ( email )

University of Oxford ( email )

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Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Alastair Gray

University of Oxford - Health Economics Research Centre (HERC) ( email )

Department of Public Health
Old Road Campus
Oxford OX3 7LF
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1865 226885 (Phone)
+44 (0)1865 226842 (Fax)

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