Why Behavioural Policy Needs Mechanistic Evidence

TILL GRÜNE-YANOFF

ECONOMICS &  PHILOSOPHY, Volume 32, Issue 3

Abstract: Proponents of behavioural policies seek to justify them as ‘evidence-based’. Yet they typically fail to show through which mechanisms these policies operate. This paper shows – at the hand of examples from economics and psychology – that without sufficient mechanistic evidence, one often cannot determine whether a given policy in its target environment will be effective, robust, persistent or welfare-improving. Because these properties are important for justification, policies that lack sufficient support from mechanistic evidence should not be called ‘evidence-based’.