Teemamapp "THBT governments should systematically use implications of “behavioural economics” for nudging citizens towards socially desirable choices."

12:03, 07. jaanuar, silverlulla, Kommentaarid: 0
2013/2014 õppeaasta MM-formaadi turniiri 2. etapi teemamapp.

What is “Behavioural Economics”? 

 Behavioural Economics represents a major change of direction for economics, with a wide range of implications for other disciplines. Classical economics was based on an assumption of rational and informed consumers. Behavioural Economics suggests that psychological factors distort the predicted results of choices. 

 What’s the problem? 

 Understanding the reasons underpinning people's behaviour is essential for policy-making. Education or information campaigns may help if people's behaviour is caused by lack of knowledge or information. If people's choices result from behavioural traits, taking biases into account when designing policy may be more effective e.g. 
  •  Default bias - letting the default rule dictate our decision; 
  •  Myopia - choosing a small reward today over a larger one later; 
  •  Loss aversion - preference to avoid loss than to acquire gains; 
  •  Optimism bias – Evaluating the possible negative outcome much less probable than it statistically is.
  •  Etc.

 What are the implications? 

 It has been shown that people are less likely to opt-in to something rather than to opt-out (e.g. organ donations; retirement plans). 

 Studies have shown that for instance smiley-stickers on low energy bills decrease future household consumption. 

 When presented a list of financial options people tend to prefer items placed in the middle of the list. 

 And much-MUCH more... 

 Where does social desirability come into play?

 Considering the above leaves us with the question why not to take active steps to make our societies better? Is it the problem of not having a common understanding of what we desire? Is it to do with the ethics or efficiency? 



 The motion requires a clear and a nuanced model for establishing an understanding what sort of policy the proposition is defending. The model should effectively establish answers to questions listed below. Of course the list might be incomplete depending on the debate so just answering these questions might not necessarily suffice. At the same time it is wise for the teams not to build their cases on nit-picky technical challenges but rather try to clash on a broader level of argumentation.

 To summarise – your model has to be clear and specific for understanding the underlying values you are protecting but it is not expected that you explain every implication in detail. 
  •  What and why do we deem socially desirable? 
  •  Who would be the deciding agent?
  •  What are the methods proposed for achieving those ends?
  •  What are the specific effects expected of the method?
  •  What are the expected outcomes of the policy?
  •  Who would be most affected by this policy? 

 Areas of argumentation

 (Not to be taken as self-standing arguments or necessities that have to be included in every case but rather potential discussing points that can be used to form areas of argumentation) 

 1. What decisions are socially desirable? What is desirable for an individual? What is desirable for the collective? Are these two things different or mutually exclusive? 
 2. Is it possible to objectively define what is “socially desirable”? Why do people make undesirable decisions? Why do we let people make bad decisions in the first place?
 3. Who is the agent for determining what is desirable? Is it in the competence and jurisdiction of the state?
 4. Is it ethical for the state to manipulate people even with good intentions? What are we willing to sacrifice for a “correctly” functioning society? What would be the projected outcome of this policy?
 5. To what extent should people be manipulated? Why is it acceptable for one agent (e.g. privet companies) and not for the other?
 6. Is there risk for abuse? Can this sort of policy making be exploited? 

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