Obama did it, Cameron too, and now Germany seems determined to do it as well: Angela Merkel seeks advice in behavorial economics, according to her spokesman, in order to try new methods of "effective governance".
This refers to an approach which has been popularized by the constitutional law professor Cass Sunstein and the economics scholar Richard Thaler some years ago with their book "Nudge. Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness". It goes by the name of "libertarian parternalism": Instead of bans, orders and sanctions government regulation should rely on more subtle ways of "nudging" behavioral change – by altering decision options of citizens and corporations in a way that they do the "right" thing all by themselves.
The news that the German federal government is following the american und british example and wants to introduce "nudging" into its regulatory practice comes at the right time for Verfassungsblog: In January 2015 we will, with generous support by the Vodafone Foundation, host a large international conference at Humboldt University on "Choice Architecture in Democracies: Exploring the Legitimacy of Nudging".
We are still in the middle of planning, but one thing we can already announce: Cass Sunstein will give the keynote lecture.
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All the best, Max Steinbeis