Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Glimmer of Hope?

Question: "Are they [economists] really the only social scientists with anything useful to contribute to the efficient running of a government?" asks Richard H. Thaler in an article in the New York Times (Watching Behavior Before Writing the Rules).

Answer: Of course not, but try telling that to the U.S. government.

Economists monopolize government policymaking in the United States, says Thaler. Not so in Britain, where a few years ago the government decided to try something different. It created a Behavioral Insights Team manned by other kinds of social scientists (such as sociologists and psychologists) with the aim of helping government agencies function more efficiently by making it easier for people to do the right thing--like pay their taxes on time or weatherize their home. It worked. The team has already paid for itself many times over. Let's hope the U.S. government takes notice.

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