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

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Notes

  1. 1.

    A key point, which I revisit below: Thaler and Sunstein reject plan (4), on grounds that giving consumers what they want is not possible when what they want is not well defined, as illustrated by the cake and fruit preference inversion.

  2. 2.

    Some critics argue that the predictable biases of Homer Economicus are partly a laboratory artifact, and are less evident in the field. See, for example, Levitt and List (2008).

  3. 3.

    For the traditional non-paternalist, in contrast, a policy of misinformation is incoherent, because while information can improve self-regarding individual choice, misinformation cannot. For the non-paternalist, fraud, even well intended fraud, cannot be justified. (See Leonard et al. 2000).

  4. 4.

    Thaler and Sunstein, to their credit, acknowledge these problems.

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.

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  3. Levitt, S. D., & List, J. A. (2008). Homo economicus evolves. Science, 319, 909–910.

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  4. Schelling, T. C. (1984). Choice and consequence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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  5. Sunstein, C. R., & Thaler, R. H. (2003). Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron. The University of Chicago Law Review, 70(4), 1159–1202.

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Correspondence to Thomas C. Leonard.

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Leonard, T.C. Richard H. Thaler, Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. Const Polit Econ 19, 356–360 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10602-008-9056-2

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