Amber's Reviews > Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Nudge by Richard H. Thaler
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Jun 12, 11

Read in January, 2011

Although I enjoyed reading this book, ultimately I found it not to have that much new material, relative to the collection of (libertarian) blogs I read, which have covered the authors' work in some detail.

However, I did really like the framing of "libertarian paternalism"--constructing default choices to be helpful, but still giving people choices--which is that there is no neutral choice architecture. That is, people buy stuff on the higher shelf more...but something has to go on the higher shelf. So there is no way to be completely neutral, which addressed one of my concerns about paternalism (which I generally oppose).

The authors have some good ideas, such as "Save More Tomorrow" (promising to increase 401(k) contribution percentages when you get a raise, so you never take a hit on your take-home pay) to improve savings rates, and taking into account seniors' drug usage when electing a Medicare Part D plan (I was shocked at how poorly constructed this system is currently).

I found the book's "characters" of Humans and Econs a little bit...childish? Just seemed kind of a patronizing way to describe people's inability to weigh long-term benefits versus short-term gains. Paternalistic, even.
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