Welfare, Preferences, and Risk: Theory, Behavioural Evidence, and Policy

Posted On September 24, 2018

June 6, 2019 – June 7, 2019

London School of Economics

General Information

Results from several decades of behavioural and experimental economics complicate and deepen the challenges to the design of normatively defensible, technically sound, empirically realistic, and politically feasible policy. The 2018 publication of Robert Sugden’s much-anticipated book, The Community of Advantage, creates a natural occasion for critically comparing existing theoretical frameworks, consolidating empirical and technical knowledge, and assessing promising lines of new investigation. This workshop will be framed around how we should fundamentally understand welfare theory, in the wake of findings from behavioural and experimental microeconomics, as an enterprise intended to be relevant to policy and mechanism design. It is structured so as to have three elements in simultaneous view:

  1. Foundations: How is “welfare,” the individual or social utility that normative economics aims to optimize, to be understood and measured for practical, but also philosophically coherent and defensible, purposes?
  2. Policy: What degree or kind of paternalism is morally acceptable and politically sustainable for applied welfare economists and policy makers? To what extent can policy be based on a general theoretical perspective, and to what extent should it vary across domains of application?
  3. Mechanisms: Are the most workable mechanisms nudges of various kinds, or boosts, or something else? What have we learned from actual policy implementations? How is responsibility for interventions and responses actually and best distributed across agents and institutions?


Matteo M Galizzi (LSE), Natalie Gold (Oxford), Glenn Harrison (CEAR, Georgia State University) and Don Ross (University College Cork, University of Cape Town, and CEAR) are the organizers of this workshop. Funding is being provided by CEAR. For more information on CEAR, see cear.gsu.edu. Standard travel and accommodation support for paper presenters will be provided. Should you have any questions, please contact Don Ross at don.ross931@gmail.com about the substance of the workshop, and contact Mark Schneider at cear@gsu.edu with questions about participation and logistics.

There will be meals provided throughout the conference. Please contact cear@gsu.edu should you have any dietary restrictions or special needs.


The workshop will be hosted at the London School of Economics by the LSE Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science (http://www.lse.ac.uk/PBS). The workshop will be held in the Vera Anstey Room, Old Building, Houghton Street, WC2A 2AE London. A map of the LSE campus can be found at: http://www.lse.ac.uk/lse-information/Campus-Map. The tube stations closest to the LSE are Holborn (Piccadilly line, Central line) and Temple (District line, Circle line). A map of the London tube can be found at: https://tfl.gov.uk/maps/track/tube.


Presenters will be accommodated at hotel accommodation located nearby the LSE. We will book a room for all of the presenters not based in London, checking in on 5 June and checking out on 8 June. These three nights will be paid for in advance, so the only cost to you would be incidentals and any additional services or room nights you might need. If you require additional nights, please let us know and we will coordinate with the hotel to try to accommodate the request.


CEAR will cover economy-class airfares for presenters coming from longer distances, and train fares or petrol allowances for presenters coming from in and around London.

Confirmed speakers

  • Liam Delaney, University College Dublin
  • Paul Dolan, LSE
  • Natalie Gold, Oxford
  • Glenn Harrison, Georgia State University, University of Cape Town
  • Daniel Hausman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Guilhem Lecouteux, Université Nice – Sophia Antipolis
  • Don Ross, University College Cork, University of Cape Town, Georgia State University
  • Robert Sugden, University of East Anglia
  • Alex Voorhoeve, LSE