"Nudge:" Public policy and the science of choice

What public policy suggestions might flow from the developing field of behavioral economics, the science of choice?

The central idea in this Freakonomics post about the book "Nudge," is that freedom of choice can be preserved even while public policy influences the decisions people make, that economic behavior can be altered for the better with certain well designed "nudges."

While at first blush the idea would appear alarming - authors Richard Thaler, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago, and Cass Sunstein, Harvard Law, use the off-putting term "libertarian paternalism" - it would be more alarming to believe that choices aren't already influenced by numerous social and commercial cues. You and I are not rational. Moreover, armed with a growing body of research psychologists, game theorists and philosophers tell us that we are not nearly as transparent to ourselves as we'd like to believe. We are unaware in many cases why we do what we do.

Choice in the free-to-make-all-possible-choices sense does not exist. The Freakonomics post linked above interviews the authors, who discuss at some length how choice can be preserved in that context.

Although its subject matter may not touch on behavioral economics, IF is hosting a discussion of freedom that is open to the public. It's a free event and passes (you will need one) will be available beginning July 15. I hope to see you there.

Wayne