The continuing chatter about the book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness is covered in a Guardian piece today, which reveals that plans are being made for a weekend retreat for shadow ministers to talk with co-author Richard Thaler and others about potential policies that harness behavioural economics.
Cameron name-dropped their work in a speech last month and Obama’s policy advisers have been looking at it very closely. Steve Hilton and other senior party advisers were said to be impressed when they met with Thaler last week. Three policy areas said to be of focus are: how to make it socially unacceptable for the young to
carry knives; encouraging people to recycle; and tackling binge
drinking and obesity.
Chris Dillow in today’s Times sounds a note of caution about financial incentivisation however. He says "introducing payments changes the meaning of activities, reducing good works to cash transactions" and therefore inhibiting altruism. Samuel Coates wrote positively about nudging on CentreRight yesterday: "as far as I’m concerned politicians can nudge away".