Vad förklarar beteendeekonomin?

Tim Harford uppmärksammar den nya studien ”As-If Behavioral Economics: Neoclassical Economics In Disguise?”, som innehåller en kritik mot beteendeekonomin:

Behavioural economists point out cases where our decisions don’t match neoclassical theory, and thus the ”as if” defence fails. But Gegerenzer and Berg complain that behavioural economists have retained the neoclassical incuriosity about why we act as we do. Instead, they have modified the neoclassical model until its predictions fit our observed choices, and then fallen back on the same ”as if” story.

Med andra ord: när beteendeekonomer förkastar Friedmans metodologiska syn tycks de ha förhastat sig. Detta är en tänkvärd kritik. En annan (relaterad) del i uppsatsen som tycks mig väsentlig är i linje med vad bl.a. John ListVernon Smith och Gary Becker tidigare har påpekat:

In spite of hundreds of papers that purport to document various forms of ”irrationality” (e.g., preference reversals, deviations from Nash play in strategic interaction, violations of expected utility theory, time inconsistency, non-Bayesian beliefs), there is almost no evidence that such deviations lead to any economic costs. Thus—separate from the lack of evidence that humans make highstakes decisions by solving constrained optimization problems—much of the behavioral economics research program is predicated on an important normative hypothesis for which there is, as yet, very little evidence.

Beteendeekonomin har tveklöst kommit för att stanna, men bör, liksom alla forskningsprogram, granskas också i sina fundament och i termer av sin övergripande relevans.

Tips: Bengt Kriström.