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Departing from the standard model of economics with the assumption that humans have fixed preferences, or tastes, more recent behavioral insights show that preferences are influenced by past consumption in a way that the status quo is often valued higher than alternatives. CARL CHRISTIAN VON WEIZSÄCKER adds this “adaptiveness” to the standard model of preferences and shows that this still allows performing standard welfare analysis. In showing that improvement paths are always non-circular, the altered model even delivers a foundation to do behavioral welfare economics.


Carl Christian von Weizsäcker is Emeritus Professor for Economics and senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, Germany. His areas of interest include welfare economics with adaptive preferences, history of economics and social market economics.
Von Weizsäcker has held teaching positions at serval high profile universities, including the University of Heidelberg, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Cologne. He chaired the German Monopoly Commission and is a member of the Advisory Group of the German Minister of Economic Affairs. He has published numerous scientific articles and books and is a founding member and fellow of the European Economic Association, foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and member of Acatech (National Academy of Science and Engineering).


Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Initially founded as a Max Planck institute that investigates the provision of collective goods, the ­institute has developed into an international hub that focuses in its research mainly on applied economics and on behavioral law. Moreover, the institute hosts three independent research groups on “moral courage”, “economic cognition”, and “mechanisms of normative change”. The set of researchers from various disciplines, such as economics, law, psychology, and sociology, constitutes a truly interdisciplinary environment that facilitates a cross-fertilization of ideas. 

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Original publication

Adaptive Preferences and Institutional Stability

von Weizsäcker Carl Christian
Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics JITE
Published in 2014

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Konsumentensouveränität und beeinflussbare Präferenzen. Ist Laisser Faire bei Werbung das Richtige?

von Weizsäcker Carl Christian
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