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Behavioral Public Economics: Welfare and Policy Analysis with Non-Standard Decision-Makers

Jun 2005
Working Paper
04-033
By  B. Douglas Bernheim, Antonio Rangel
This paper has two goals. First, we discuss several emerging approaches to applied welfare analysis under non-standard (“behavioral”) assumptions concerning consumer choice. This provides a foundation for Behavioral Public Economics. Second, we illustrate applications of these approaches by surveying behavioral studies of policy problems involving saving, addiction, and public goods. We argue that the literature on behavioral public economics, though in its infancy, has already fundamentally changed our understanding of public policy in each of these domains.