The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy

The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy - Edited by Eldar Shafir “Roll over economists. We have always, pridefully, thought of ourselves as the major arbiters of good public policy: take it or leave it based on cost-benefit analysis. The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy challenges that hegemony. In each interesting chapter–on topics ranging from discrimination and poverty to health, savings, and bureaucracy–the book shows the role of psychology in public policy. Only one word can describe this book: wow!”–George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate in Economics

The Behavioral Foundations of Public Policy
Edited by Eldar Shafir

In recent years, remarkable progress has been made in behavioral research on a wide variety of topics, from behavioral finance, labor contracts, philanthropy, and the analysis of savings and poverty, to eyewitness identification and sentencing decisions, racism, sexism, health behaviors, and voting. Research findings have often been strikingly counterintuitive, with serious implications for public policymaking. In this book, leading experts in psychology, decision research, policy analysis, economics, political science, law, medicine, and philosophy explore major trends, principles, and general insights about human behavior in policy-relevant settings. Their work provides a deeper understanding of the many drivers–cognitive, social, perceptual, motivational, and emotional–that guide behaviors in everyday settings. They give depth and insight into the methods of behavioral research, and highlight how this knowledge might influence the implementation of public policy for the improvement of society.

This collection examines the policy relevance of behavioral science to our social and political lives, to issues ranging from health, environment, and nutrition, to dispute resolution, implicit racism, and false convictions. The book illuminates the relationship between behavioral findings and economic analyses, and calls attention to what policymakers might learn from this vast body of groundbreaking work.

Wide-ranging investigation into people’s motivations, abilities, attitudes, and perceptions finds that they differ in profound ways from what is typically assumed. The result is that public policy acquires even greater significance, since rather than merely facilitating the conduct of human affairs, policy actually shapes their trajectory.


Table of Contents

Watch Eldar Shafir examine the psychology of scarcity and its role in the lives of the very poor

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Introduction [PDF]

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