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Having recently read Freakonomics I was particularly interested by the idea of the responses of a community to incentives - as an example, the tale of a school which tried to introduce a financial penalty for picking up children late, which inadvertently had the opposite effect, as it nullified the previously existing (but largely invisible) social penalty.

Is there a general theory for this kind of interaction of incentives with community? If so, what is its name, and where could I read more about it? I'm interested in books and papers on a variety of levels, from popular accounts (à la Freakonomics) to textbooks to research papers.


migrated to cogsci.stackexchange.com by EnergyNumbers, Chad, Jason B May 1 '12 at 12:58

This question belongs on our site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry.

This is pretty much all economics. Just depends on the scope of your community (localized, national, firms, individuals, etc.), and the incentives (prices, taxes, interest rates, punishments, etc.). I suspect what you're looking for would be contained in the broadly-defined category of applied microeconomics, but unless you can better articulate what exactly it is that you want, I'm not sure how much help anyone can be. –  prototoast Mar 25 '12 at 16:21
@prototoast, yes. And you could throw in parts of sociology and political science as well. –  Michael Bishop Apr 25 '12 at 16:49

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