The People’s Perspective on Libertarian-Paternalistic Policies

AYALA ARAD, ARIEL RUBINSTEIN

THE JOURNAL OF LAW AND ECONOMICS, Volume 61, Number 2

Abstract: We examine the views toward libertarian-paternalistic (soft) governmental interventions in a series of online experiments conducted in three countries. We use both standard and new methods to elicit attitudes toward soft interventions in various hypothetical scenarios. The majority of the participants accept these types of interventions by the government. However, a substantial proportion opposes them and would prefer that the government simply provide information to help the public make the right choice rather than use a more effective choice architecture intervention. Some even refuse to make the choice that the government promotes, although they would have done so in the absence of the intervention. The opposition to soft interventions appears to be driven by concerns about manipulation and the fear of a slippery slope to nonconsensual interventions. Opposition to soft interventions is reduced when they are implemented by employers rather than the government.