The myth of the rational voter: why democracies choose bad policies / Bryan Caplan. p. cm. Classical Public Choice and the Failure of Rational Ignorance. Review of Bryan Caplan’s The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies. Francesco Caselli1. December 1London School of. The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies. By Bryan Caplan. May 29, In theory, democracy is a bulwark against socially.

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One of the ways to do this is to voetr the average person’s understanding of economic theory, preferably at the grade and high school level.

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies

Why Democracies Choose Yhe Policies book review “. But few would actually place the blame where I would argue that it truly lies: Whether you agree with the author or not, og makes some good points throughout the book that anyone interested in the functioning of democracies would do well to consider.

It is a recipe for mendacity. The author posits and offers proof that this is why democracies choose bad policies. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public funds treasury. To ask other readers questions about The Myth of the Rational Voterplease sign up.

The language used is really complicated at times. Educating the general populace with economic principles and political norms won’t stop them from voting for nonsensical policies that go directly against what they’ve been taught.

This book does a fine job of laying down the empirical argument to corroborate that claim. Can it account for the growing divide between Republicans and Democrats? A thoughtful explanation of incentives and biases that direct how people vote.

All the more important seems this book to be for me before the grad school start. Chapter 4 talks about what is wrong about rational ignorance, and chapter 5 discusses rational irrationality, that is – the rationality behind being irrational about voting if the information required to be a rational voter takes time to understand, but the outcome for the individual is near nonexistent, why bother with being a rational voter in the first place?


More importantly, though, this is hands down the best public choice economics book I’ve ever read. The book received a mixed-to-positive review from Loren Lomasky in Public Choiceco-inventor of the theory of “expressive voting” that was a close competitor to Caplan’s theory of rational irrationality.

Even if they do value greater prosperity for the majority, voters may not vote for policies that affect it, simply because they are ignorant of the actual effects of policies. One thing I appreciate about Caplan is his willingness to give his opponents what I would consider a fair shake.

Thus, by voting for greater spending, for instance, a person can feel good about his or her generosity, without directly or immediately paying the price, even if such policies will hurt the economy in the end. Caplan refers to the pessimistic bias as a “tendency to overestimate the severity of economic problems and underestimate the recent past, present, and future performance of the economy.

The politician must succumb to the masses and what they want – they demand and the politicians supply. The macroeconomics level simplicity of the thinking and the unjustifiably condescending mentality might have been tolerable if the book had been a few hundred pages shorter. His vote by itself won’t make him pay less tax. Archived from the original PDF on The Myth of the Rational voter attempts to explain how democracies continue to enact stupid economic policies that are not in the best economic interests of a majority of people.

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Would it be possible? Then how come the voter off irrational? Most people would agree that government is a mess, especially right now in the US. Jul 07, Skylar Burris rated it liked it Shelves: It follows that we get bad policies not because politicians ignore voters, but precisely because they often give voters exactly what they want, tbe are bad policies.

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Maybe you are so rich that it becomes an affront to my sense of dignity.

Most voters vote voger what they believe is in the best interest of the nation. The book is notable in use of irrationality, a rare assumption in economics. Rational irrationality, or the active avoidance of truth when the material cost of errors is not too high, is distinct from rational ignorance in which voters simply tire of seeking the truth. Lots of interesting stuff here, but for non-economists who lack assumptions about human rationality and other baggage it was definitely peripheral to the main argument.

I fully acknowledge that there is an element of “preaching to the choir” at play. The degree of benefit is rarely equalized, but it is always positive for both parties. Caplan is a professor of economics at George Mason University and touts a Ph.

But since one’s vote has very little impact on an election it is rational to be irrational. However, that is not necessarily true, since real economic growth is a product of increases in the productivity of labor.

If voters were simply ignorant as many arguethen their errors would tend to be random and cancel each other out also as many argue. If, however, the enlightened public is not much closer to economists, then something else is going on, as those explanations have been neutralized.