Rational addiction theory – a survey of opinions
2008/7: Author: Melberg, H.O., Institute of Health Management and Health Economics, University of Oslo (PDF 69 kb)
This paper reports briefly on some of the results from a survey of academics who have written about the theory of rational addiction. The topic is important in itself because if the literature is viewed by its participants as an intellectual game, then policy makers should be aware of this so as not to derive actual policy from toy models.
More generally, the answers shed light on the nature of economics and how many economists think about model building, evidence requirements and the policy relevance of their work. A majority of the respondents believe the literature is a success story that demonstrates the power of economic reasoning. At the same time they also believe the empirical evidence to be weak, and they disagree both on the type of evidence that would validate the theory and the policy implications. Taken together this points to an interesting gap. On the one hand most of the respondents claim that the theory has valuable real-world implications. On the other hand they do not believe the theory has received empirical support.