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Biased policy professionals

Sheheryar Banuri, Stefan Dercon and Varun Gari
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Varun Gari: The World Bank

No 17-07, Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) from School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

Abstract: A large literature focuses on the biases of individuals and consumers, as well as "nudges" and other policies that can address those biases. Although policy decisions are often more consequential than those of individual consumers, there is a dearth of studies on the biases of policy professionals: those who prepare and implement policy on behalf of elected politicians. Experiments conducted on a novel subject pool of development policy professionals (public servants of the World Bank and the Department for International Development in the UK) show that policy professionals are indeed subject to decision making traps, including sunk cost bias, the framing of losses and gains, frame-dependent risk-aversion, and, most strikingly, confirmation bias correlated with ideological priors, despite having an explicit mission to promote evidence- informed and impartial decision making. These findings should worry policy professionals and their principals in governments and large organizations, as well as citizens themselves. A further experiment, in which policy professionals engage in discussion, shows that deliberation may be able to mitigate the effects of some of these biases.

Date: 2017-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe and nep-exp
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Related works:
Journal Article: Biased Policy Professionals (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Biased Policy Professionals (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Biased Policy Professionals (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: Biased Policy Professionals (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: Biased Policy Professionals (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: Biased policy professionals (2017) Downloads
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