Have you ever been “nudged”? Ever since Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s wildly popular book Nudge came out in 2009, governments around the world have been exploring how to use behavioural economics to help meet their policy objectives. Our own Australian Taxation Office has eagerly embraced the concept of nudging. For instance, a couple of months ago it was reported at Smart Company the ATO would nudge employers to ensure they pay their super obligations, and in 2018 it was reported the ATO nudges people to claim work-related expenses which aren’t out of line with what other people claim (see How the ATO is nudging Australians to pay more tax).
Given the ever-increasing use of behavioural economics by policy makers, I thought behavioural economics would make a good topic for my Economics Explained podcast. My latest episode, Behavioural Economics with Dr Brendan Markey-Towler, is now available via Simplecast and major podcast apps.
My guest, Dr Brendan Markey-Towler is a Senior Consultant at Behaviour Innovation, a Brisbane-based consultancy firm specialising in behavioural change which has undertaken a range of interesting projects include Project Cane Changer. Prior to joining Behavioural Innovation, Brendan researched and taught economics at the University of Queensland and University College London. He is the author of An Architecture of the Mind: A Psychological Foundation for the Science of Everyday Life, published by Routledge in 2018.
Questions I posed to Brendan included:
- How have economists traditionally thought about how people behave and make decisions? Why was it problematic?
- How has behavioural economics modified the way economists think about economic behaviour?
- What does our new understanding of behavioural economics mean for policy (e.g. nudges, importance of overcoming biases, etc.)?
- What don’t we know still that we really need to know?
Books mentioned during the discussion included:
The interview was recorded on 30 October 2019 at the Precinct innovation hub in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.