Category Archives: Behavioral Economics and Public Policy

How Healthy Food Could Make You Fat

Have you ever eaten a healthy meal, maybe some brown rice and stir-fried veggies, and found yourself ready for another meal just a short while later? Or, more often couldn’t overcome a hankering for a satisfying dessert to top off … Continue reading

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Is Homo Economicus a Psychopath?

In what academics call neoclassical economics, human beings are largely rational, self-interested decision-makers. This stereotypical human, often referred to as Homo economicus, is a creature of coldly calculated selfishness, dispassionately maximizing its best interests even if that comes at the … Continue reading

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The Ulysses Strategy

As the University of Chicago economist Richard Thaler tells the story, a group of fellow-graduate students in economics were at his house one night in the late nineteen-seventies, socializing before the dinner hour. Thaler saw how much they were snacking, and … Continue reading

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Will A “Red Light” Be An Effective Nudge To Stop People From Drinking Coke?

So many foods beckoning us from the grocery store shelves – but which ones are healthy for us to consume? We could study Nutritional Facts labels, but that feels as challenging as the math portion of the SAT, with so … Continue reading

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Debates About the Use of Behavioral Economics in India

Here is the start of a great essay exploring the promise of using behavioral economics in India to promote social goals. Thought you might want to see it. In his book ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’, Adam Smith wrote: “How … Continue reading

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Putting the Sin in Sin Tax

With Thanksgiving behind us, many Americans will not assemble together for a home-cooked meal again for a while. By some estimates, people living in large cities consume the majority of their meals outside the home — at restaurants, coffee shops, bars … Continue reading

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Time To Stop Paying For Pepsi With Food Stamps

The food stamp program helps over 40 million Americans pay for groceries. Unlike other forms of economic assistance, this program, called SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), only pays for food, thereby constraining how recipients make use of the aid. … Continue reading

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My Burrito Has How Many Calories?!?

In collaboration with Peggy Liu and Jim Bettman, I’ve had fun doing some research on just how hard it is for people to guess how many calories they are consuming, at restaurants like Chipotle where everyone puts different ingredients on … Continue reading

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A Park Bench That Tells You You’re Fat?

Clearly we in the United States are not taking the obesity epidemic as seriously as the Russian government. We debate whether it is appropriate for the government to require restaurants to inform their customers about how many calories they are … Continue reading

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Would Americans Be Happier with a Higher Minimum Wage?

There was a very nice piece in the Washington Post recently, exploring the relationship between life satisfaction and the minimum wage. They summarize their findings in the following figure: I suggest you read the piece, to see what they make … Continue reading

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