Obesity remains a serious health problem and it is no secret that many people want to lose weight. Behavioral economists typically argue that “nudges” help individuals with various decisionmaking flaws to live longer, healthier, and better lives. In an article in the new issue of Regulation, Michael L. Marlow discusses how nudging by government differs from nudging by markets, and explains why market nudging is the more promising avenue for helping citizens to lose weight.
In Bootleggers & Baptists: How Economic Forces and Moral Persuasion Interact to Shape Regulatory Politics, economists Bruce Yandle and Adam Smith explain how money and morality are often combined in politics to produce arbitrary regulations benefiting cronies, while constraining productive economic activities by the general public.
The No Child Left Behind Act has created perverse incentives for states, encouraging them to adopt low educational standards lest they jeopardize federal funds and risk other punishments. To put an end to states’ dumbing down their standards, many people — including President Obama — are calling for national curriculum standards, a uniform measure that would make it difficult for states to hide their failures. While national standards may seem innocuous, many important questions go unanswered — indeed, even unasked. Why would they withstand special-interest pressure any better than state standards? What does the research reveal about the effectiveness of national standards where they exist? Would it be constitutional for the federal government to impose a single curriculum nationwide? And are there better ways to improve school quality? Please join Congressman Rob Bishop and Cato’s Neal McCluskey to discuss national curriculum standards, educational quality, and federalism.