Lifestyle Economics

New Paternalism, Same Old Problems


In the Media

Matthew Lesh writes for The Telegraph


Kristian Niemietz writes for City AM

IEA research featured in CapX

Erik Matson, Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow and author of new IEA research on paternalism and behavioural economics has written about his and the IEA’s latest publication in CapX.

Erik wrote:

“Under the surface, a new form of paternalism has reared its head; one that seeks to make us better off as ‘judged by our own standards’.

“This new approach can be seen in plain packaging for tobacco products and auto-enrolment into workplace pensions. These policies are undoubtedly well-intentioned. But the age-old wisdom of Adam Smith and David Hume shows us that this new paternalism suffers from the same old problem: it imposes the preferences of policymakers onto individuals.

“My book, New Paternalism Meets Older Wisdom published by the Institute of Economic Affairs, offers some reflections on the issues just summarised through the lens of two giants in the history of philosophy and economics, Adam Smith and David Hume. I come alongside recent engagements with the new paternalism, bolstering criticisms with formulations from intellectual history.

“The behavioural scientist has insights to offer about health, wealth, and happiness, and there are important conversations to be had about how behavioural science informs our thinking about human agency. But, as I argue, behavioural scientists, if they claim to hold to liberal notions of pluralism, should not offer their insights as if they constitute an enlightened theory of the good.”

Read the full piece here.

Read a copy of New Paternalism Meets Older Wisdom here.

New Paternalism was also referenced in Marginal Revolution and The Yorkshire Times.