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Constitutional Political Economy

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 356–360 | Cite as

Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness

Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2008, 293 pp, $26.00
  • Thomas C. Leonard
Book Review

Thaler and Sunstein have written an important book. Though costumed in the guise of pop economics, complete with a cute logo—Nudge is, in fact, a manifesto for the new paternalism. Well written, witty to the point of being charming, consistently interesting, disarmingly self-referential, and loaded with crisp summaries of the psychology literature on human fallibility, Nudge’s dust jacket is justly festooned with blurbs from luminaries. But don’t be fooled. Thaler and Sunstein charm their readers, but they are after some very big game. This is a book that both measures the inroads psychology has made into contemporary economics, and argues a compelling brief for the new paternalism. We have ways, say Thaler and Sunstein, of making you happy.

Thaler and Sunstein begin with “dogmatic anti-paternalists” in their sights. Economists, traditionally heavily represented among those opposed to paternalism, hold three mistaken beliefs about paternalism. They are: one, the belief that paternalism...

References

  1. Kahneman, D. (2007). The sad tale of the aspiration treadmill. http://www.edge.org/q2008/q08_17.html#kahneman.
  2. Leonard, T. C., Goldfarb, R. S., & Suranovic, S. (2000). Professor New on paternalism and public policy. Economics and Philosophy, 16(2), 323–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Levitt, S. D., & List, J. A. (2008). Homo economicus evolves. Science, 319, 909–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Schelling, T. C. (1984). Choice and consequence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Sunstein, C. R., & Thaler, R. H. (2003). Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron. The University of Chicago Law Review, 70(4), 1159–1202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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