Austrian economics and the new paternalism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the work of von Mises and Rothbard one can find a case for a strong presumption against traditional coercive paternalist policies. Coercion is generally undesirable, and legislators and bureaucrats cannot know what is best for each agent. Not all of the traditional case against paternalism applies to the new libertarian paternalism espoused by behavioral economists and popularized in Sunstein’s and Thaler’s Nudge. There is no way to rule out the possibility that legislators sometimes know better than agents what generally benefits them, and that they can impose feasible regulations that do not limit important freedom and whose costs and risks do not outweigh their benefits. Paternalism is not a bugbear to be avoided at all costs. There’s good reason for skepticism about its virtue and feasibility but no justification for its blanket condemnation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Austrian Economics
PublisherEmerald Group Holdings Ltd.
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameAdvances in Austrian Economics
ISSN (Print)1529-2134

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


  • Coercion
  • Nudge
  • Paternalism
  • Rothbard
  • Von Mises
  • Welfare


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