1. Adair Turner's "Between Debt and the Devil: Money, Credit and Fixing Global Finance" is a very stimulating read. It examines the problems associated with the financial industry and financial regulation in the UK and more generally. I will summarise on the blog when time permits. The main thesis is that the nature of the system creates far too much lending into sectors such as real estate, which creates instability. I think it is a very useful book to read for those interested in consumer behaviour as it examines both the consumer side and the firm/regulatory side and gives a sense of how the two are interconnected.
2. New paper by James Smith and I - “Acquiring Human Capital through the Generations by Migration”. This project is still on-going and we are currently examining the migration experience in 20th century Australia.
This paper focuses on the role of migration to the United States from a set of important European sending countries as a device for improving the human capital of the children and grandchildren of migrants as measured by their education. We derive a new and conceptually more appropriate measure of the generational gains in schooling attributable to migration by taking into account the correct counterfactual: the generational education gains that would have taken place if these migrants had remained in their sending countries. We find that the two European sending countries that gained the most in terms of their descendants’ human capital were Italy and Poland.3. Article on the conversation website by centre PhD researcher Phil Newall on financial behaviour, biases and nudging.
4. "Behavioural Insights in Public Policy". Call for papers for the IAREP/SABE conference in Wageningen July 2016
5. New NORFACE call on Dynamics of Inequality Across the Lifecourse now open - submit by 30 March. Our research group is looking closely at this call. Open to suggestions for collaboration from research groups in the relevant countries.
6. Three behavioural science/behavioural economics related PhD studentships at Queen's University Belfast. CLOSING 22nd January.
7. Self-control app for Mac stops you accessing e.g. facebook/twitter or other common sites for self-designated time.
8. Sunstein on Thaler's "Misbehaving"
9. The Future of Behavioural Change: Balancing Public Nudging vs Private Nudging - Alberto Alemanno
Public authorities, including the European Union and its Member States, are increasingly interested in exploiting behavioral insights through public action. They increasingly do so through choice architecture, i.e. the alteration of the environment of choice surrounding a particular decision making context in areas as diverse as energy consumption, tax collection and public health. In this regard, it is useful to distinguish between two situations. The first is that of a public authority which seeks to steer behaviour in the public interest, taking into account one or more mental shortcuts. Thus, a default enrollment for organ donation leverages on the power of inertia to enhance the overall prevalence organ donors. Placing an emoticon (sad face) or a set of information about average consumption on a prohibitive energy bill has the potential to nudge consumers towards less energy consumption. I call this pure public nudging. The second perspective is when public authorities react to exploitative uses of mental shortcuts by market forces by regulating private nudging. I call this 'counter-nudging'. Pure public nudging helps people correct mental shortcuts so as to achieve legitimate objectives (e.g. increased availability of organs, environmental protection, etc.), regardless of their exploitative use by market forces. It is against this proposed taxonomy that the 2nd AIM Lecture examines whether also private companies may nudge for good. Are corporations well-placed to nudge their customers towards societal objectives, such as the protection of the environment or the promotion of public health? This is what I call benign corporate nudging. Their record is far from being the most credible. Companies have used behavioural inspired interventions to maximize profits, what led them to sell more and in turn to induce citizens into more consumption. Yet corporate marketing need not always be self-interested. An incipient number of companies are using their brand, generally through their packaging and marketing efforts, to 'nudge for good'. By illustrating some actual examples, this lecture defines the conditions under which companies may genuinely and credibly nudge for good. It argues that benign corporate nudging may have – unlike dominant CSR efforts – a positive long-term, habit-forming effect that influences consumers' future behaviour 'for good'.