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The Choice Architecture of Choice Architecture: Toward a Non-Paternalistic Nudge Policy


  • Davind Colander

    () (Middlebury College)

  • Andrew Qi Lin Chong

    (Middlebury College)


The paper seeks to recast the goal of nudge policy from a goal of achieving a specific result determined by government or by behavioral economists to a goal of giving individuals as much power as is practical to decide the choice architecture they face. We call a nudge with such a giving individuals “power over choice mechanisms” goal a non-paternalistic nudge policy. The goal of nonpaternalistic nudge policy is not to achieve a better result as seen by government or by behavioral economists. The goal of non-paternalistic nudge policy is to achieve a better result as seen by the agents being nudged as revealed through their choices of choice architectures. We argue that non-paternalistic nudge policy fits much better with the values inherent in Classical liberalism than does libertarian paternalistic nudge policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Davind Colander & Andrew Qi Lin Chong, 2010. "The Choice Architecture of Choice Architecture: Toward a Non-Paternalistic Nudge Policy," Journal of Economic Analysis, National Technical University of Athens, vol. 1(1), pages 42-48.
  • Handle: RePEc:tua:journl:v:1:y:2010:i:1:p:42-48

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C., 2008. "How are preferences revealed?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1787-1794, August.
    2. Cass R. Sunstein & Richard H. Thaler, 2003. "Libertarian paternalism is not an oxymoron," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 48(Jun).
    3. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2003. "Optimal Defaults," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 180-185, May.
    4. Richard H. Thaler & Cass R. Sunstein, 2003. "Libertarian Paternalism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 175-179, May.
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    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General


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