Biased Policy Professionals

39 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2018

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: October 2018

Abstract

Although the decisions of policy professionals are often more consequential than those of individuals in their private capacity, 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 UK) show that policy professionals are indeed subject to decision making traps, including the effects of framing outcomes as losses or gains, and most strikingly, confirmation bias driven by ideological predisposition, 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: behavioural economics, bureaucracy, evidence-based policy making

Suggested Citation

Banuri, Sheheryar and Dercon, Stefan and Gauri, Varun, Biased Policy Professionals (October 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13289, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3278664

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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