Nudge | June 2013


The prescription Thaler and Sunstein proposed is to design public policies with an eye to the way people really live, susceptible to the human impulses of procrastination, shame, cheating, peer pressure and a host of other characteristics. Want people to pay their back taxes? Tell them that their neighbours paid theirs on time. Our herd mentality and desire to not be an outlier will do the rest. This issue of Policy Options looks at what we have learned about nudge five years after Thaler and Sunstein published their theory. We look at how much traction the theory has gained and where it has hit speed bumps. We ask how useful nudge has proved to be as a policy tool, and if it is finding its way into the culture of public policy design. Or will it be just another fad, soon to surrender to the old policy hammers of laws and regulation, those classical ways to get us to behave the way we know we really should?

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