I have posted a few times on the implications of the emerging literature on behavioural economics and public policy for Irish policy. Some readings from a previous post are available here and three others posts with links are available here. For those interested in this area, the following links may be of interest:
(i) Cass Sunstein, who is one of the main figures in this area, recently released a new book called “Simpler: The Future of Government“. It outlines an approach to government that emphasises making regulations, laws and taxes less confusing and more robust. It is partly based on academic work and partly on his time as a senior regulator in the Obama administration. It follows on from some of the ideas in the work Nudge that he co-authored with Richard Thaler. I recommend this book to anyone involved in designing regulation, taxation and policy. It is short and written clearly by someone with experience both as a high-profile academic and a senior policy-maker.
(ii) The US have now set up a version of the UK Behavioural Insights team. Details of that are here.
(iii) One of the researchers in our group has put together a data-base of studies employing what can loosely be called “Nudges” in various areas of policy. He has currently summarised 80 studies and adds to them every week or so. There are some very interesting examples across many areas of policy.
(iv) It is in the list in one of the previous links but the book I most recommend for a wide overview on behavioural science perspectives on policy is Shafir’s “Behavioural Foundations of Public Policy“. A bit heavy (in both senses of the word) if you are looking for beach-reading but I can’t recommend it more highly to people wanting a grounding in this area.
(v) I have also put together a fairly detailed reading list on behavioural economics and public policy, including legal and ethical issues.
(vi) Apologies for blatant plug but we have started our own graduate programme in this area. Queries welcome.
(vii) Added from the comments, Kevin Denny has a list of behavioural economics resources
Finally, would be interested in people’s thoughts on this agenda in the area of Irish public policy. Are there areas where changing of default options could bring defined improvements in public services? Are there environmental changes in areas like taxation, education, health, waste management that could be enacted to improve outcomes in these areas? What areas of public policy would most benefit from reducing complexity of rules and regulations? And on the other hand, are these types of policies a distraction from real macroeconomic and social issues? How much should economics education take on board new models emerging from behavioural economics?