Beware of economists bearing advice

Beware of economists bearing advice. Though some of it is valuable, the framework of theoretical welfare economics from which economic advice usually issues has serious normative limitations and distortions. When economists go beyond identifying consequences of policies to making recommendations, they typically rely on a theory whose only normative concern is welfare and its distribution and that mistakenly identifies welfare with the satisfaction of preferences. Their advice about how to increase welfare must accordingly be regarded with caution, and policy makers must not forget that increasing welfare should not be their only goal.
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