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Behavioral Economics in Public Policy


Units: 12


Economics has up to now been the social science that has been most broadly and deeply involved in public policy. With its rational choice perspective, the economic perspective has tended to favor certain types of policies, namely those that enhance the efficiency of market mechanisms and lower the cost of information. In this course we will spend the first several classes reviewing the assumptions, implications for public policy, and limitations of the rational choice perspective. The remainder of the course will then be devoted to examining different public policy issues, including saving, health care, crime and drug abuse, through the competing lenses of traditional and behavioral economics.

Learning Outcomes

Students will learn what classic economic assumptions behavioral economics challenges, gain a broad understanding of many of the issues facing policy makers, learn how BE has been applied in various policy domains and where it has been successful and understand how to generate policy interventions using insights from BE.