Rational status quo

Itzhak Gilboa, Fan Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Decision makers often stick to a status quo without explicitly reconsidering it. Yet, their observed choices might be compatible with a fully rational model. We ask when such a rationalization is possible. We assume as observable only the choice of sticking to the status quo vs. changing it, as a function of a database of cases. We state conditions on the set of databases that would make the decision maker change the status quo, which are equivalent to the following representation: the decision maker entertains a set of theories, of which one is that her current choice is the best; she is inert as long as that theory beats any alternative theory according to a maximum likelihood criterion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-308
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Economic Theory
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Case-based decisions
  • Inertia
  • Status quo
  • System 1
  • System 2


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