2014 Annual Conference:
Behavioral Economics, Law, and Health Policy
Abstracts were due on Monday, December 2. If you have missed the deadline but are still interested in participating in the conference, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein's book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness brought behavioral economics to the masses, beginning a discussion of libertarian paternalism and the many ways that "choice architects" can help nudge people to make better choices for themselves without forcing certain outcomes on anyone. Some of their examples fall in the realm of health policy, as is also the case of Daniel Kahneman's recent book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, which examines various cognitive errors people make in their judgments, choices, and conclusions, as well as how we might correct them. But the conversation has only just begun.
Building on the success of the behavioral economics movement, this conference (and possibly an edited volume) will further develop the scholarly discussion by focusing on key issues in health law policy, bioethics, and biotechnology by addressing both broad conceptual questions and more specific policy applications. Potential topics include:
Are there features unique to health and health care that prevent individuals, groups, and policymakers from making the best decisions? What is a “best” decision, i.e., whose perspective should be paramount?
What types of barriers exist to rational decision making in the health care context, and what does rational decision making look like here?
Is exploitation of framing effects, default rules, nudges, and other elements of choice architecture appropriate when it comes to human health, or is this an area where pure autonomy should reign – or perhaps strong paternalism is needed? Is health policy special?
What should policymakers do when there is conflict between outcomes that might be good for individuals but not society more generally, and vice versa? Where should the nudges push?
Which areas of health law, bioethics, and biotechnology policy are most amenable or resistant to manipulation of choice architecture? When nudges are not plausible, what is the best way to overcome bounded rationality?
When might behavioral economics lead to the wrong results for health law, bioethics, and biotechnology policy?
How can manipulations of choice architecture be best evaluated empirically, and what ethical concerns might such research raise?
What are the most interesting or compelling health law, bioethics, and biotechnology policy nudges we should be thinking about today in the realms of obesity, organ donation, end-of-life care, biospecimen ownership and research, human subjects research, HIV testing, vaccination, health insurance, and other areas?
Please note that this list is not meant to be at all exhaustive; we hope to include papers related to the conference’s general theme but not specifically listed here.
In an effort to encourage interdisciplinary and international dialogue, we have welcomed submissions from legal scholars and lawyers, of course, but also from bioethicists and political philosophers critiquing and defending the ethics of the sorts of manipulations called for by behavioral economists; health economists, doctors, psychologists, and other experimentalists discussing new avenues to overcome bounded rationality; international scholars and regulators discussing how their systems have used choice architecture to improve health and health care; and others who have a meaningful contribution to make in this field as related to health law, bioethics, and biotechnology policy.
The call for abstracts closed on Monday, December 2, 2013. We will release a full schedule of presentations early in 2014.
How to Register
Attendance is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required. Register here.