The Need for Humility in Policymaking

Lessons from Regulatory Policy

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Published by Rowman & Littlefield in Economy, Polity, and Society

Regulations impact a wide array of market and social activities that influence our daily lives. Regulations are attempts to correct perceived market failures, caused by information asymmetries, externalities, and principal-agent problems, and to provide public goods, which would otherwise be underprovided. Government actors are responsible for identifying these issues, weighing the costs and benefits of intervention, and designing and implementating regulations to improve society.

Good regulations help mitigate issues in the economy without inciting new problems and without the costs exceeding the benefits of intervention. This requires intensive analysis and an awareness of the complexities of social life. Our society is complex and dynamic where people face knowledge and incentive problems, whether in the market, politics, or civil society. By examining this complex reality, we can better understand why regulations arise and persist and the challenges of reform. We argue that this approach to policymaking and policy analysis requires humility; an acknowledgment of the challenges we face when intervening in our society.

This volume intends to cultivate an appreciation for the complexity of human decision making and the incentives that drive human behavior. By examining specific policy changes, it will delve into the effects of and lessons learned from regulations in financial markets, computer and internet governance, and health care innovation and delivery. This volume will be of interest to students, scholars, and policymakers who seek to understand the complexities of regulation in a dynamic social world.