Do people really want to be nudged towards healthy lifestyles?

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This paper assesses Thaler and Sunstein’s claim that policies that nudge individuals towards healthy lifestyles promote the welfare of those individuals, as judged by themselves. I argue that Thaler and Sunstein switch between two different interpretations of that clause. One interpretation gives the clause a wide range of applicability, but drains it of its content as a repudiation of paternalism. The other interpretation makes it more meaningful to say that people want to make the choices they are being nudged towards, but applies to a much narrower range of cases than Thaler and Sunstein have in mind.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113–123
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Review of Economics
Issue number2
Early online date20 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • nudges
  • health
  • paternalism
  • self-control

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