Nudging the world toward smarter public (data) policy: An interview with Richard Thaler

Nudging the world toward smarter public policy: An interview with Richard Thaler

Public and private data alike will become more transparent, says behavioral scientist Richard Thaler. That’s an opportunity for some companies and a threat for others.

McKinsey Quarterly, JUNE 2011

… Since last year, the University of Chicago professor has been advising the “Nudge Unit,” established by the government of the United Kingdom to create policies that will enhance the public welfare by helping citizens make better choices. The group gets its name from Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (Yale University Press, April 2008), the book Thaler coauthored with Harvard Law School professor Cass Sunstein, which applies the ideas of behavioral economics to public policy. … In this interview with University of Sydney professor Dan Lovallo and McKinsey’s Allen Webb, Thaler describes some of the Nudge Unit’s early efforts to boost both organ donation rates and the volume of data that governments and businesses share with individuals. The more transparent data environment envisioned by Thaler holds profound implications for business leaders. “Strategies that are based on obscuring the consumer’s choice,” argues Thaler, will not be “good long-term strategies.” …

For full text of the interview, visit Smarter public policy: An interview with Richard Thaler – McKinsey Quarterly – Public Sector – Government Regulation.

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