Behavioral labor economics: Advances and future directions

In the past decades, behavioral economics has become an influential and important field of economics. Interest in behavioral economics derives from unease with standard economic models that are based on restrictive assumptions, which confine the nature of human motivation. Although Adam Smith, the founding father of modern economics, had highlighted the multitude of psychological motives that drive human behavior, and despite the fact that many influential economists thereafter believed in tenets of modern behavioral economics, the homo economicus assumption became prevalent, until this construct was challenged by compelling evidence on social, cognitive and emotional factors that drive decision-making and social interaction. Since human interaction is germane to labor markets, one would expect behavioral economics to be highly relevant for labor economics. This paper gauges whether and how behavioral economics has left its mark on labor economics, considers the timing and structure of this development, and contemplates its future impact on labor economics.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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