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Showing posts from November, 2011

Does Nudge require regulators to be "more rational" than consumers?

A couple of times recently - notably in Bill Easterly's otherwise very positive review of Daniel Kahneman's new book - I've seen the following common critique of Nudge-style approaches: "But if people are irrational, regulators are irrational too - so how can they make rules to counter citizens' irrationality?" Easterly says:
But [the case for libertarian paternalism] is much too sweeping, because it overlooks everything the rest of the book says about how the experts are as prone to cognitive biases as the rest of us. Those at the top will be overly confident in their ability to predict the system-wide effects of paternalistic policy-making...While it's right for regulators to be humble about their degree of knowledge about the world, and to be cautious in creating new regulations, there are several reasons why this particular criticism is wrong.

First, we are not comparing like with like. There is no claim that a regulator, when placed in the same situat…