nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2007‒05‒26
two papers chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. Who are the Behavioral Economists and what do they say? By Floris Heukelom
  2. Time-to-Degree and the Business Cycle By Dolores Messer; Stefan C. Wolter

  1. By: Floris Heukelom (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
    Abstract: The most important financial source for behavioral economics is the Russell Sage Foundation (RSF). The most prominent behavioral economists among the RSF’s twenty-six member Behavioral Economics Roundtable (BER) are Kahneman, Tversky, Thaler, Camerer, Loewenstein, Rabin, and Laibson. The theoretical core of behavioral economics made up of the work of these seven researchers is positioned in opposition to Adam Smith/Hayek type of economics, as exemplified by experimental economists Vernon Smith and Plott; and what is referred to as ‘mainstream’ or ‘traditional’ economics, meaning the neoclassical economics that roughly builds on Samuelson. On the basis of an overview of the work of these seven behavioral economists, a theoretical division can be observed within behavioral economics. The first branch considers human decision-making to be a problem of exogenous uncertainty, which can be analyzed with decision theory. It employs traditional economics as a nor! mative benchmark and favors a normative-descriptive(-prescriptive) distinction for economics. The second branch considers human decision-making to be a problem of strategic interaction, in which the uncertainty is endogenous. Its main tool is game theory. It rejects traditional economics both positively and normatively.
    Keywords: Behavioral economics; Russell Sage Foundation; experimental economics; Kahneman; Tversky; Thaler; Laibson; Loewenstein; Rabin; Camerer
    JEL: A12 B21 B31 D0
    Date: 2007–02–12
  2. By: Dolores Messer (University of Bern); Stefan C. Wolter (Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education, University of Bern, CESifo and IZA)
    Abstract: When students themselves enjoy large degrees of freedom in determining the duration of their studies, it results in a fairly large degree of interindividual variance in terms of time-todegree. This paper investigates individual time-to-degree in a model where students determine the optimum time-to-degree whilst weighing up the cost against the consumption benefit accruing from an additional semester of studies. According to this model, the cost level and consumption benefit depend, in turn, on the general economic environment during the study period. An empirical investigation using a data set based on Swiss university graduates from 1981 to 2001 shows that changes in the unemployment rate, real interest rate, wage levels, and economic growth have a significant impact on individual time-todegree. These results are consistent with the conclusions derived from the theoretical model.
    Keywords: time-to-degree, business cycle, consumption benefit
    JEL: C81 E32 I2 I23
    Date: 2007–05

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