Myth of the Rational Voter Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies

ISBN-10: 0691138737
ISBN-13: 9780691138732
Edition: 2008 (Revised)
Authors: Bryan Caplan
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Description: The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering  More...

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Book details

List price: $28.95
Copyright year: 2008
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 8/24/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 296
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.946

The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering assessment in this provocative and eye-opening book. Caplan argues that voters continually elect politicians who either share their biases or else pretend to, resulting in bad policies winning again and again by popular demand. Boldly calling into question our most basic assumptions about American politics, Caplan contends that democracy fails precisely because it does what voters want. Through an analysis of Americans' voting behavior and opinions on a range of economic issues, he makes the convincing case that noneconomists suffer from four prevailing biases: they underestimate the wisdom of the market mechanism, distrust foreigners, undervalue the benefits of conserving labor, and pessimistically believe the economy is going from bad to worse. Caplan lays out several bold ways to make democratic government work better--for example, urging economic educators to focus on correcting popular misconceptions and recommending that democracies do less and let markets take up the slack. The Myth of the Rational Votertakes an unflinching look at how people who vote under the influence of false beliefs ultimately end up with government that delivers lousy results. With the upcoming presidential election season drawing nearer, this thought-provoking book is sure to spark a long-overdue reappraisal of our elective system.

Preface to the Paperback Edition
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Paradox of Democracy
Beyond the Miracle of Aggregation
Systematically Biased Beliefs about Economics
Evidence from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy
Classical Public Choice and the Failure of Rational Ignorance
Rational Irrationality
From Irrationality to Policy
Irrationality and the Supply Side of Politics
"Market Fundamentalism" versus the religion of Democracy
Conclusion: In Praise of the Study of Folly
Notes
References
Index

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