March 26, 2019

The Talmud's Take on Behavioral Economics

“[S]ince both fields are worth the same amount of money, what is the special preference for having [the tortfeasor] pay with the smaller, higher-quality field rather than the larger, lower-quality field? The standard answer given for this question is [that this] is preferable [from the paint of view of the plaintiff]. . . . In other words, a smaller, high-quality field costing $100 is more valuable than a larger, lower quality field of the same cost. . . .

A basic problem is posed to this approach from the perspective of economics [and] the concept of efficient markets. If a $100 high-quality field is worth more than a $100 low-quality field, why do they remain at the same price? Shouldn’t the high-quality field’s greater value be reflected by a correction in the markets such that it is now worth more than $100?…

It may be possible to resolve [this and similar] problems on the basis of a revolution in the study of economics that took place over the past half-century. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, two Israeli psychologists and scions of rabbinic dynasties, earned the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002 (received by Kahneman; Tversky was deceased by that point) on the basis of their research in the 1970s on behavioral economics…”

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