Behaving Ourselves in Tough Times: Behavioral Economics and Public Policy

Document Information


  • Published: June 2009
  • Author: Ian McAuley
  • Purpose: NATSEM 2009 Seminar series
  • Location: NATSEM, University of Canberra. Bruce ACT
  • Keywords: behavioral and economics


At this seminar, Ian McAuley, will present a background to behavioural economics, will illustrate some of its findings, and will focus on the implications of these findings in the current economic climate, particularly in relation to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Behavioural economics has empirically demonstrated that we have many patterns of behaviour which are incongruent with those predicted by popular microeconomic models - those that our policy-makers rely on so heavily. People are not, in many cases, rational decision makers when it comes to handling money. We use heuristics - quick rules of decision-making - which serve us well in most situations but which, in some situations, have costly consequences. One strong finding, relevant to current economic times, is that people's economic behaviours are largely independent of income or education. The rich and poor alike make the same costly decisions, but for the latter, living closer to the limit of their resources, the consequences can be dire. Ian McAuley is an Adjunct Lecturer in the School of Business and Government, University of Canberra. He has worked extensively with welfare and consumer organisations on economic and public policy matters. Over last three years he has had several assignments with the OECD on consumer policy matters. He holds undergraduate qualifications from the University of Adelaide and a masters degree from Harvard.


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