Colin Camerer

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Colin Camerer is an expert in behavioral economics and neuroeconomics. His research focuses on how both psychological and neuroscientific factors influence real world economic decisions. He is the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics at the California Institute of Technology. He received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, as well as MBA and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

 

Summaries of Recent Research Findings in Behavioral Science

Regulation for Conservatives: Behavioral Economics and the Case for “Asymmetric Paternalism” (2003)

Context:

Liberals and conservatives often disagree on the necessary extent of regulation, especially when it could be considered paternalistic.

Insight:

Asymmetric paternalism is a behavioral approach that nudges individuals to make decisions that are more aligned with their best interests while preserving individuals’ freedom to choose.

Implication:

Policymakers can use techniques that fall under asymmetric paternalism such as mindfully setting default options, mandating clear information disclosure, and allowing short cooling off periods for consumer sales.

 

Labor Supply of New York City Cabdrivers: One Day at a Time (1997)

Context:

Basic economic theory predicts that workers will work more hours when wages are high and less hours when wages are low.

Insight:

New York City cabdrivers usually quit earlier on profitable days and work later on unprofitable days, often just setting a daily earnings goal and trying to reach it.

Implication:

Understanding this tendency of individuals to simplify complex tasks by using basic decision rules can provide policymakers with greater insights on labor markets.

 

What current policy question could be informed by behavioral economics?

Behavioral economics can create guidelines to judge whether and how regulations governing consumer choice are helpful. Recent research has identified a variety of decision-making errors. Good regulations will help consumers who make errors, without imposing a large burden on excellent decision makers or on firms. Research can also reduce regulations that are not able to improve consumer choices better than private market solutions can.

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