Some Notes on the Nudge: The Political Economy of Libertarian Paternalism in Democratic Societies
24 Pages Posted: 31 May 2011
Date Written: May 27, 2011
This paper discusses libertarian (or soft) paternalism, as proposed among others by Thaler and Sunstein (2008). It is argued that libertarian paternalism should not be understood as an efficiency-enhancing, but as a redistributive concept. The relationship between libertarian paternalism and social norms is also discussed. In particular, it is argued that libertarian paternalism increases the stability of given social norms, which in turn need not be efficient, or in the material self-interest of a majority of individuals. Soft paternalism is therefore argued to be an essentially conservative concept of policy-making and aimed at increasing the longevity of status quo social norms.
Keywords: libertarian paternalism, soft paternalism, social norms, informal institutions, behavioral political economics, expressive behavior
JEL Classification: H11, I18, D61, B52, Z1
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