Biased Policy Professionals

31 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017

See all articles by Sheheryar Banuri

Sheheryar Banuri

University of East Anglia (UEA) - School of Economic and Social Studies; University of East Anglia (UEA) - Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS)

Stefan Dercon

University of Oxford - Department of Economics

Varun Gauri

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 26, 2017

Abstract

A large literature focuses on the biases of individuals and consumers, as well as "nudges" and other policies that can address those biases. Although policy decisions are often more consequential than those of individual consumers, there is a dearth of studies on the biases of policy professionals: those who prepare and implement policy on behalf of elected politicians. Experiments conducted on a novel subject pool of development policy professionals (public servants of the World Bank and the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom) show that policy professionals are indeed subject to decision making traps, including sunk cost bias, the framing of losses and gains, frame-dependent risk-aversion, and, most strikingly, confirmation bias correlated with ideological priors, despite having an explicit mission to promote evidence-informed and impartial decision making. These findings should worry policy professionals and their principals in governments and large organizations, as well as citizens themselves. A further experiment, in which policy professionals engage in discussion, shows that deliberation may be able to mitigate the effects of some of these biases.

Keywords: Inequality, Public Sector Administrative and Civil Service Reform, Democratic Government, Non Governmental Organizations, Economics and Institutions, Public Sector Management and Reform, Public Sector Administrative & Civil Service Reform, De Facto Governments

Suggested Citation

Banuri, Sheheryar and Dercon, Stefan and Gauri, Varun, Biased Policy Professionals (June 26, 2017). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 8113, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3006147

Sheheryar Banuri (Contact Author)

University of East Anglia (UEA) - School of Economic and Social Studies ( email )

Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom
+441603591246 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.uea.ac.uk/economics/people/profile/s-banuri

University of East Anglia (UEA) - Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) ( email )

United Kingdom
+441603591246 (Phone)

Stefan Dercon

University of Oxford - Department of Economics ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Road
Oxford, OX1 3BJ
United Kingdom
44 1865 271084 (Phone)
44 1865 271094 (Fax)

Varun Gauri

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/vgauri

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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