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© Gordon L Clark, Alicia H Munnell and J. Michael Orszag 2006. All rights reserved. This article argues that the question of ethical financial decision making is, at root, a very similar one to that of ethical medical decision making. Both financial and medical decisions are centrally involved with issues of balancing the welfare, or best interests, of people with the need to respect people's own decisions. Both can involve quite difficult decisions based on complex information, and both will often involve an expert professional in helping the person to come to a decision. In both situations, furthermore, there is potential for serious harm to the individual if a particular decision is made. Because of these similarities it is believed that it is fruitful to draw on recent work on the ethics and practicalities of treatment decisions and of the physician-patient relationship when thinking about financial decision making in the elderly. The article mainly examines different conceptions of 'well-being' and of autonomy. It also suggests that a classification of models of the physician-patient relationship into four different types sheds light on the ethical aspects of the client-financial adviser relationship and shows how different ideas about respecting autonomy have practical implications.

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Book title

The Oxford Handbook of Pensions and Retirement Income

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