Behavioral Economics

ECN421 Behavioral Economics

Autumn 2023

Spring 2024
  • Topics

    The objective of the course is to introduce students to the theoretical toolbox, and contemporary empirical research in behavioral economics. This will be done by using the standard economic model of choice as a benchmark and extend it with insights from psychological research. Following this approach will allow us to provide a better understanding of financial decision-making, labor market outcomes, and consumer behavior. We will then discuss the market consequences and, importantly: how public policy may address market failures using insights from behavioral economics.

    We will cover the workhorse models of behavioral economics. A non-exhaustive list of topics include:

    • Time inconsistent preferences
    • Prospect theory
    • Biased beliefs
    • Social preferences
    • Limited attention

    In addition, we will discuss different empirical methods that are commonly used in the study of behavioral economics. Focus will be on the pros and cons of laboratory experiments, field experiments, and observational studies. During the course we will also reflect on ethical issues that arise in the application of behavioral economics.

  • Learning outcome


    Upon completion of the course, the student will:

    • be able to describe the core theories and models of behavioral economics
    • be able to discuss research in behavioral economics
    • be able to explain how behavioral economics can inform public policy
    • be able to apply different empirical methods that are suitable to test behavioral hypotheses 


    Upon completion of the course, the student will:

    • have the ability to analyze human behavior based on the insights of behavioral economics
    • be able to suggest interventions rooted in behavioral economics to address market failures
    • be able to test and evaluate interventions using best practice in behavioral economics

    General competence 

    Upon completion of the course, the student can:

    • communicate key insights of behavioral economics to both specialists and non-specialists
    • reflect upon and take ethical aspects into consideration when discussing topics in behavioral economics

  • Teaching

    The main instruction format for the course is interactive plenary lectures by the professors. These feature Q&A, group discussion and group problem solving. In addition, the course teaching assistants will conduct lab discussions of problems.

  • Compulsory Activity


  • Assessment

    The final grade will be based on

    1. Home assignment (30%), written in groups or individually.  Group size: 1-5 students. The assignment starts early/mid October and students will have about 4 weeks to complete the assignment.
    2. An individual 4 hour home-exam (70%).

    Home assignment and home exam have to be written in English.

  • Grading Scale


  • Literature

    - Wilkinson and Klaes (2017), An Introduction to Behavioral Economics (3rd edition)

    - DellaVigna (2009), Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field, Journal of Economic Literature

    - Selected articles


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Autumn and spring. Offered autumn 2023.

Course responsible

Assistant Professor Siri D. Isaksson, Department of Economics (main course responsible).

Associate Professor Samuel Hirshman, Department of Economics.