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.
Featuring the coauthor Cass Sunstein, University of Chicago Law School, with comments by Terrence Chorvat, George Mason University Law School and Will Wilkinson, Cato Institute.
Expanding on their widely discussed article on “libertarian paternalism,” Professors Sunstein and Thaler argue that people often make bad choices on diet, retirement savings, health insurance, and contributing to climate change. In their new book they examine how human beings make decisions. Recent scientific research shows that people are susceptible to cognitive biases and blunders. Because we are human, we are fallible, and because we are fallible, we can use all the help we can get. Sunstein and Thaler argue that by knowing how people think, we can design choice environments that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves, their families, and their society. Using colorful examples from the most important aspects of life, Thaler and Sunstein demonstrate how thoughtful “choice architecture” can be established to nudge us in beneficial directions without restricting freedom of choice. Will Wilkinson and Terrence Chorvat will raise questions about the proper place of “choice architecture” in a free society and the plausibility of “libertarian paternalism.”