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Is homo oeconomicus an extinct species, and does it matter for EUropean integration? Attitudes towards free trade and populism

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The latest Nobel Prize winner in economics, Richard Thaler, was rewarded 'for his contributions to behavioural economics'. Thaler and Sustain claim that there are 'nudges', not pure rationality, that drive people decision-making processes. A 2017 CEPR report reveals that economic factors do matter with regards to trust in the political institutions of the EU but they do not play the main role. Therefore, it seems quite natural to ask: what is an explanatory power of economics in grasping the recent social behaviour dynamics, including the European integration processes and actual rise of radicalism and populism? Can economics contribute to a better understanding of those issues and can it come up with some practical solutions? To answer these questions I explore both theoretical backgrounds in economics and some empirical studies. I also refer to the results of my recent research on the Polish social perception of free trade agreements. I investigate how much the limits of EUrope are related to the limits of economics.
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Keywords: BEHAVIOURAL ECONOMICS; EUROPEAN INTEGRATION; FREE TRADE; PERCEPTION; POPULISM; SOCIAL

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January, 2019

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