Mainstream economists are reluctant to integrate features of bounded rationality into their behavioural assumptions. However, particularly in the field of economic policy the scope for irrational behaviour is given, since voters lack incentives for rational reasoning concerning their voting decision. The explanatory power of irrational behaviour is demonstrated for the example of reform resistance. Status quo preferences, endowment effects and loss aversion are typical deviations from full rationality and explain resistance against beneficial reforms even if there is full information. From this psychological perspective, a major precondition for the implementation of reforms is the loss of the status quo as an available option. This loss might result from changing external constraints caused by political integration (European Union) or market integration (globalisation). Test runs of policy options might also be helpful for overcoming psychological reform resistance.
Heinemann, Friedrich (2000), Die Psychologie irrationaler Wirtschaftspolitik am Beispiel des Reformstaus, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 00-12, Mannheim. Download