The aim of the Experimental & Political Economics programme is improving the understanding of the behavioural determinants and consequences of economic decision making by focusing on political economic issues, allowing for bounded rationality, and using laboratory experimentation as a research method.
Our research programme consists of 3 main projects:
Political decision making plays an important role in economies. Governments, for example, are essential for the functioning of markets. While they may be called upon to correct for market failures, they also have their own dynamics. Positive welfare effects of policies cannot be taken for granted. It is therefore important to study political decision making and the way in which policies can be applied beneficially.
Project 'Economics of political decision making' is a long standing project at Economics and Business, dating back to 1983. It is related to public choice and the more recent upsurge in political economics. The project is concerned with the demand for and the endogenous supply of government policies, the ways in which coordination takes place through the political decision-making process, and the effects thereof on the economy.
Major research topics are:
Economic models, when pertaining to political decision making, typically make strong assumptions about the rationality, sophistication, and selfishness of individual behaviour. Experimental and other empirical evidence suggests however, that the predictive power of the standard 'homo economicus' model is often disappointing and depends on the institutional character of the decision making environment. There is a need for greater knowledge and a more satisfactory treatment of the bounds on rationality generated by the nature of cognition and emotion, and the influence of institutions.
Project 'Bounded rationality and institutions', fits into the emerging field of behavioural economics. In this project fundamental aspects of individual decision making, with economic relevance, are investigated. More particularly, attention is focused on the impact of cognitive limitations and emotions. In addition, responses to the complexity and institutional characteristics of the decision environment are studied.
Among the topics investigated are:
For the advancement of theory, empirical feedback is crucial. This may hold in particular for new research areas, when sorting out the most promising ways to proceed. Empirical analysis is seen as an important ingredient of this programme. For many of the issues studied in the aforementioned two projects, however, adequate field data are hard to come by or even nonexistent. Laboratory experimentation is a helpful complementary research method, especially in these cases, for exploration or the testing of models focusing on fundamental behavioural aspects or mechanisms.
Project 'Experimental economics', is stimulated by, and provides feedback for, the other two projects. The main purpose of laboratory experiments in economic research is to create a (political) economic process in a laboratory environment which allows for sufficient control and accurate measurement. Experiments are used for three purposes:
Major lines of research are:
The research of this programme is carried out within the Center for Research in Experimental Economics and political Decision-making (CREED), a research institute of Economics and Business. CREED was established in 1991 by a PIONIER-grant from the Netherlands Organization for the Advancement of Scientific Research (NWO) for the development of experimental economics in the Netherlands. An important facility is the CREED-laboratory for experimental economics, one of the few dedicated computer laboratories in Europe. Its focus on political decision making and experimental economics distinguishes CREED internationally.
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