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Is behavioural economics such a big deal?

By Tom Nuttall  

The publication of Nudge, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s “libertarian paternalism” manifesto, has made real waves on this side of the Atlantic, with the Tories in particular seizing upon the ideas in the book to show how in touch they are with the latest thinking in social science.

Nudge (which I reviewed a couple of issues ago for Prospect) relies for its insights on the relatively new field of behavioural economics, which aims to move beyond the traditional model of “homo economicus,” or economic man—rational, self-interested, independent—to produce an economics that sits more happily with the findings of researchers investigating…

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