2,425 research outputs found

    How to Protect Future Generations Using Tax Base Restrictions

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    This paper studies constitutional restrictions on the tax base that protect future generations from expropriation and improve the optimality of investment in Intergenerational Public Goods (IPGs). The choice of the tax base matters because it affects how intergenerational (IG) spillovers are capitalized into assets that are owned by current generations, and thus the IG politics. We show that with an income tax base, present generations expropriate future generations and produce inefficiently low levels of IPGs. By contrast, with a land tax base, IG expropriation using debt is impossible, the level of investment in IPGs is higher and, for some types of IPGs, Pareto optimal.

    Toward Choice-Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics

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    Interest in behavioral economics has grown in recent years, stimulated largely by accumulating evidence that the standard model of consumer decision making provides an inadequate, positive description of human behavior. Behavioral models are increasingly finding their way into policy evaluation, which inevitably involves welfare analysis. No consensus concerning the appropriate standards and criteria for behavioral welfare analysis has emerged yet. This paper summarizes our effort to develop a unified framework for behavioral welfare economics (for a detailed discussion see Bernheim and Rangel 2007) — one that can be viewed as a natural extension of standard welfare economics. Standard welfare analysis is based on choice, not on utility or preferences. In its simplest form, it instructs the planner to respect the choices an individual would make for himself. The guiding normative principle is an extension of the libertarian deference to freedom of choice, which takes the view that it is better to give a person the thing he would choose for himself rather than something that someone else would choose for him. We show that it is possible to extend the standard choice-theoretic approach to welfare analysis to situations where individuals make inconsistent choices, which are prevalent in behavioral economics

    Beyond revealed preference: choice-theoretic foundations for behavioral welfare economics

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    We propose a broad generalization of standard choice-theoretic welfare economics that encompasses a wide variety of nonstandard behavioral models. Our approach exploits the coherent aspects of choice that those positive models typically attempt to capture. It replaces the standard revealed preference relation with an unambiguous choice relation: roughly, x is (strictly) unambiguously chosen over y (written xP*y) iff y is never chosen when x is available. Under weak assumptions, P* is acyclic and therefore suitable for welfare analysis; it is also the most discerning welfare criterion that never overrules choice. The resulting framework generates natural counterparts for the standard tools of applied welfare economics and is easily applied in the context of specific behavioral theories, with novel implications. Though not universally discerning, it lends itself to principled refinements

    Beyond Revealed Preference Choice Theoretic Foundations for Behavioral Welfare Economics

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    This paper proposes a choice-theoretic framework for evaluating economic welfare with the following features. (1) It is applicable irrespective of the positive model used to describe behavior. (2) It subsumes standard welfare economics both as a special case (when standard choice axioms are satisfied) and as a limiting case (when behavioral anomalies are small). (3) It requires only data on choices. (4) It is easily applied in the context of specific behavioral theories, such as the ß, d model of time inconsistency, for which it has novel normative implications. (5) It generates natural counterparts for the standard tools of applied welfare analysis, including compensating and equivalent variation, consumer surplus, Pareto optimality, and the contract curve, and permits a broad generalization of the first welfare theorem. (6) Though not universally discerning, it lends itself to principled refinements.Economic Welware, behavior economics, welfare analysis, consumer surplus, Pareto optimality

    Intergenerational Fiscal Constitutions: How to Protect Future Generations Using Land Taxes and Federalism

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    This paper studies how to design a fiscal constitution that protects future generations from expropriation and generates optimal investment in intergenerational public goods. We study how to accomplish these goals by changing the level of government to which different types of intergenerational public goods are assigned, and the tax base of the different jurisdictions. We show that land taxation is the essential instrument for policies that mostly generate fiscal spillovers, such as debt and public infrastructure. By contrast, interjurisdictional competition is required for policies that mostly generate direct spillovers, such as irreversible environmental damages. Furthermore, we show that it is possible to design a fiscal constitution that generates full capitalization of fiscal spillovers, but in general, not one that generates full capitalization of direct spillovers.

    Intergenerational Fiscal Constitutions: How to Protect Future Generations Using Land Taxes and Federalism

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    This paper studies how to design a fiscal constitution that, by capitalizing intergenerational spillovers into land values, is able to protect future generations from expropriation and to generate optimal investment in intergenerational public goods. In particular, we study how to accomplish these goals by changing two dimensions of the fiscal constitution: (1) the level of government to which different types of intergenerational public goods are assigned, and (2) the tax base of the different jurisdictions. We show that the instruments required to generate capitalization of the intergenerational spillovers depend on the type of the spillover. Land taxation is the essential instrument for policies that mostly generate fiscal spillovers, such as debt and public infrastructure. By contrast, interjurisdictional competition is the essential instrument for policies that mostly generate direct spillovers, such as irreversible environmental damages. Furthermore, we show that it is possible to design a fiscal constitution that generates full capitalization of fiscal spillovers, but in general, not one that generates full capitalization of direct spillovers.

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

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    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.

    Addiction and Cue-Conditioned Cognitive Processes

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    We propose an economic theory of addiction based on the premise that cognitive mechanisms such as attention affect behavior independently of preferences. We argue that the theory is consistent with foundational evidence (e.g. from neurosciencee and psychology) concerning the nature of decision-making and addiction. The model is analytically tractable, and it accounts for a broad range of stylized facts concerning addiction. It also generates a plausible qualitative mapping from the characteristics of substances into consumption patterns, thereby providing a basis for empirical tests. Finally, the theory provides a clear standard for evaluating social welfare, and it has a number of striking policy implications.

    Appetitive and Aversive Goal Values Are Encoded in the Medial Orbitofrontal Cortex at the Time of Decision Making

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    An essential feature of choice is the assignment of goal values (GVs) to the different options under consideration at the time of decision making. This computation is done when choosing among appetitive and aversive items. Several groups have studied the location of GV computations for appetitive stimuli, but the problem of valuation in aversive contexts at the time of decision making has been ignored. Thus, although dissociations between appetitive and aversive components of value signals have been shown in other domains such as anticipatory and outcome values, it is not known whether appetitive and aversive GVs are computed in similar brain regions or in separate ones. We investigated this question using two different functional magnetic resonance imaging studies while human subjects placed real bids in an economic auction for the right to eat/avoid eating liked/disliked foods. We found that activity in a common area of the medial orbitofrontal cortex and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex correlated with both appetitive and aversive GVs. These findings suggest that these regions might form part of a common network
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