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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Ecological Economics, Volume 67, Issue 4, 1 November 2008, Pages 640–645
The predictions of widely prescribed global and country level environmental policies at present are based mainly on mainstream economic models, which treat individual actors to be ‘unboundedly rational’ in their decision making. In recent years, however, behavioral and experimental economists have found that the individual actors in many circumstances act within a ‘bounded rationality’ framework, suggesting that predictions based on the ‘unbounded rationality’ models would be less valid. While some of mainstream economists have already started adopting the bounded rationality-based models in their academic discourse, many environmental economists seem to be reluctant to use these alternative models of rationality in their research and policy prescriptions. This paper highlights the implications of using bounded rationality models in environmental research in general and policymaking in particular.
The ‘unbounded rationality’ assumption of mainstream economics continues to dominate the analytical foundation of normative environmental economics and policies dealing with how to allocate non-market environmental resources efficiently among competing uses (see Gowdy, 2007). This assumption is strongly omnipresent in all stretches of normative environmental economics such as Pigouvian negative externality analysis, Coasian property rights approach for pollution control, cost-benefit analysis of environmental changes, common property resource management, and sustainable development and intergenerational equity issues. In recent years, however, the unbounded rationality assumption of mainstream economics is being rigorously questioned by a group of behavioral and experimental economists who found that in both laboratory and field experiments the behavior of individuals, in many circumstances, reflects ‘bounds’ on their rationality (Kahneman, 2003). These economists who belong to ‘bounded rationality school’1 identified several serious ‘behavioral anomalies’ that cause systematic deviation in the individual behavior in a neoclassical sense. The individual preferences reflected in terms of behavioral anomalies are largely in compliance with the broader notion that individuals in many cases do adopt multiple objectives such as, ‘satisficing’2 (Simon, 1986)—including ‘maximising’. This being the case, the bounded rationality school argues that the conventional selfish-maximizing rationality assumption is at odds in relation to empirically observed human behavior (Gowdy, 2004). Therefore, the question posed by Michael Lovell to mainstream economists namely, ‘Should the facts be allowed to spoil a good story?’ (cited in Conlisk, 1996) is concurrently relevant for the environmental economists as well, who are categorically using conventional rationality model in their policy prescriptions. The research findings from the bounded rationality school provide some new insights into the analytical foundation of modern environmental economics and policy prescriptions based on it. It should be noted that some of the environmental and ecological economists have already taken initiative to use alternative models of rationality in their analyses related to environmental policy (e.g. Gowdy, in press, Gowdy, 2007, Gowdy and Erickson, 2005, Howarth, in press, Howarth, 2006, Howarth, 2003 and van den Bergh et al., 2000). Here, we make an additional contribution by highlighting – in a consolidated fashion – how some of the specific behavioral anomalies could potentially affect the overall environmental policies based on conventional environmental economics.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
It should be noted that the recent developments in the behavioral and experimental economics are critical to the policy agenda of environmental economics. But, it is observed that only those models based mainly on unbounded rationality assumption do dominate the current environmental policies. However, as Conlisk (1996) argues, the actual behavior of the individuals reflects ‘substantive rationality’ in certain circumstances and ‘bounded rationality’ in some other circumstances. The implication is that if a substantial amount of individuals’ behavior is boundedly rational and if the environmental policy is based on ‘unbounded rationality’ assumption, then the outcome of the policy would be welfare distorting. This suggests that in addition to the standard rationality assumptions, we need to incorporate substantial amount of bounded rationality assumptions in all stretches of environmental policies so that the ‘policy failure’ could be minimised. Efforts have been already made to show how the bounded rationality models could be systematically incorporated in the economic analysis of environmental issues. For example, Hanley and Shogren (2005) provide suggestions on how to deal with the behavioral anomalies in CBA in a systematic manner; Howarth and Wilson (2006) and Wilson and Howarth (2002) provide discourse-based, alternative valuation methodology to elicit social preferences; and, Kahneman and Sugden (2005) provide alternative methodologies to measure individual preferences influenced by bounded rationality, which could be readily extended to environmental issues; so, rather than ‘spoiling the good story told’ there is a scope for improving the current research on environmental policy with adequate inputs from recent developments in behavioral economics. It should be noted that the overlapping areas between behavioral economics and environmental economics provide an intellectual platform for a rich ‘intradisciplinary’ research and policy for sustainable development, which need to be pursued rigorously in the future.