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“Libertarian paternalist” Richard Thaler has won the economics Nobel—here’s why

The pioneer of behavioural economics and “nudge” theory has added a welcome dose of realism to the field

By Paul Wallace  

Photo: Chatham House

Nearly nine million workers are now saving into a workplace pension as a result of automatic enrolment, an initiative which started five years ago. The policy was introduced because Britain’s private pension system was collapsing as employers withdrew their support for traditional schemes. But it is also a rare example of a breakthrough in economics translated into an effective policy, first in New Zealand and then in Britain.

That breakthrough came from behavioural economics and this week one of its pioneers, Richard Thaler of Chicago University,…

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