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Interview Richard Thaler

Interview Richard Thaler

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Published by arndjan
Over de Nudge Unit: een taskforce van de Britse regering die behavioral economics gebruikt om te zorgen dat mensen in de samenleving slimmere keuzes maken.
Over de Nudge Unit: een taskforce van de Britse regering die behavioral economics gebruikt om te zorgen dat mensen in de samenleving slimmere keuzes maken.

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Published by: arndjan on Jun 20, 2011
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05/13/2013

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Nudging the worldtoward smarterpublic policy:
 An interviewwith Richard Thaler
JUNE 2011
public
 
sector 
 
practice
 
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   A  r   t  w  o  r   k   b  y   S  a  n   d  r  a   D   i  o  n   i  s   i
Richard Thaler is the rare academic
whose ideas are beingtranslated directly into action. Since last year, the University of Chicagoprofessor has been advising the “Nudge Unit,” established by thegovernment of the United Kingdom to create policies that will enhancethe public welfare by helping citizens make better choices. The groupgets its name from
Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness
(Yale University Press, April 2008), the book Thalercoauthored with Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein, whichapplies the ideas of behavioral economics to public policy. Policymakers can nudge people to save more, invest better, consume moreintelligently, use less energy, and live healthier lives, Thaler andSunstein argue, through greater sensitivity to human tendencies suchas “anchoring” on an initial value, using “mental accounting” tocompartmentalize different categories of expenditures, and beingbiased toward the status quo.In this interview with University of Sydney professor Dan Lovallo andMcKinsey’s Allen Webb, Thaler describes some of the Nudge Unit’searly efforts to boost both organ donation rates and the volume of datathat governments and businesses share with individuals. The moretransparent data environment envisioned by Thaler holds profoundimplications for business leaders. “Strategies that are based onobscuring the consumer’s choice,” argues Thaler, will not be “goodlong-term strategies.”
The
Quarterly 
:
 
What’s your sense of how the Nudge Unit came about in the first place? 
Richard Thaler:
 I got to know David Cameron and George Osborne
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 right ater
 Nudge
came out. One o their young staers had read itand passed it on to them. Mr. Cameron liked it and put it on a requiredsummer reading list or the Tory MPs. Gratiyingly, this turned out
Public and private data alike will become more transparent, says behavioralscientist Richard Thaler. That’s anopportunity or some companies and athreat or others.
1
David Cameron and George Osborne have been, respectively, the prime minister andchancellor o the exchequer o the United Kingdom since May 2010.
 
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not to be just a campaign gimmick. When they got in oice they said,“Let’s try to do something.”People in Downing Street call it the Nudge Unit, but the oicial termis the Behavioural Insight Team. A bunch o bright civil servants on theteam are going around trying to get agencies to think about how they incorporate this tool kit into the things they do. It’s hard to know whetherthis is early days o a new administration or people being polite to me.But I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with the openness—almost theeagerness—o people to talk to us. I’m sure that there are skeptics.But they are keeping that skepticism to themselves, at least initially.
The
Quarterly 
:
 
What is the core message you try to deliver inthose meetings? 
Richard Thaler:
 My number-one mantra rom
 Nudge
is, “Make it easy.” When I say make it easy, what I mean is, i you want to get somebody to dosomething, make it easy. I you want to get people toeat healthier oods, then put healthier oods in thecaeteria, and make them easier to ind, and makethem taste better. So in every meeting, I say, “Makeit easy.” It’s kind o obvious, but it’s also easy to miss.
The
Quarterly 
:
 
Which of your ideas seem to be gaining the most ground? 
Richard Thaler:
 Two things seem to have traction.One is building on the idea o changing deaults, which is an idea that had already caught on. A bigpension reorm that Adair Turner
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took on hadautomatic enrollment built into it.The Nudge Unit has an advisory committee, andin the very irst meeting with the committee we said,“Let’s try to do something about organ donations.”The idea I’ve been pushing on or that is something Icall “prompted choice” that we use in Illinois, whereI live. When you get your driver’s license renewed,they ask, “Would you like to be an organ donor?” InIllinois, that doubled the number o people on theorgan donation list. So a decision has been made
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 Adair Turner, an alumnus o McKinsey, served in 2002 as chairmano the UK Pensions Commission. Currently, he is chairman o theFinancial Services Authority and the Committee on Climate Change.
Richard Thaler
is the Ralph andDorothy Keller DistinguishedService Professor of BehavioralScience and Economics at theUniversity of Chicago BoothSchool of Business and is theresearch associate and codirectorof the Behavioral EconomicsProject at the National Bureau ofEconomic Research.

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