, Volume 158, Issue 2, pp 101-122,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 27 May 2010

What Does Behavioral Economics Mean for Policy? Challenges to Savings and Health Policies in the Netherlands


Key findings in behavioral economics are that people’s behavior (revealed preferences) is often not in line with their intentions (normative preferences), that they are sensitive to the way choices are presented to them, and that their cognitive abilities are limited. This is manifest in particular in areas of intertemporal choice, like personal finance and health-related behavior. Policy makers can develop policies that help citizens to make choices that are more in line with their normative preferences. In this paper we summarize the behavioral evidence, discuss the motivations for interventions, and show how recent behavioral insights can help to improve upon existing policies. These new policies could be described as libertarian paternalism, and include setting defaults thoughtfully and using unorthodox commitment mechanisms.