Articles

Nudging Healthy Lifestyles Informing Regulatory Governance with Behavioural Research

O. Amir, L. Bovens, A. Burgess, O. Lobel, K. Whyte, E. Selinger, A. ALEMANNO

European Journal of Risk Regulation

January 2012, vol. 3, n°1

Departments: Tax & Law, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Keywords: Nudge, Libertarian Paternalism, Behavioral, Lifestyle, Regulation


At a time when policy makers want to change the behaviour of citizens to tackle a broad range of social problems, such as climate change, excessive drinking, obesity and crime, a promising new policy approach has appeared that seems capable of escaping the liberal reservations typically associated with all forms of regulatory action. The approach, which stems from the increasingly ubiquitous findings of behavioural research, is generally captured under the evocative concept of 'nudge.' Inspired by 'libertarian paternalism,' it suggests that the goal of public policies should be to steer citizens towards making positive decisions as individuals and for society while preserving individual choice. As governments are taking considerable interest in the use of 'nudging,' this collection of essays provides a pioneering analysis of this innovative policy approach as it is currently experimented in the United Kingdom and the United States. In particular, it aims at critically examining the application of nudging approaches to the current efforts of regulating lifestyle choices, such as tobacco use, excessive use of alcohol, unhealthy diets and lack of physical exercise. In his opening essay, Nudging Healthy Lifestyles, Adam Burgess provides a critical assessment of the introduction of behavioural, nudging approaches to correct lifestyle behaviours in the UK. His thought-provoking analysis triggered a lively debate that has been framed along the subsequent essays signed by On Amir and Orly Lobel, Evan Selinger and Kyle Powys White, Alberto Alemanno and Luc Bovens. Each of these essays critically reflects upon the effectiveness as well as legitimacy of 'nudging' approaches.