David Halpern leads the Behavioural Insights Team—what used to be known as the UK government’s “Nudge Unit”. It was the first government institution to use behavioural economics to encourage better decision-making.
While the concept is controversial—many people see something sinister in the so-called “libertarian paternalism”—it’s had some impressive successes. In one project they added a statistic to tax reminders that said most people in the recipient’s area had already paid. Rates of repayment rose by 15%.
It’s estimated that this alone could save £30 million per year.
Halpern is writing a book to be released this summer (2015). The title is “The Nudge Unit: Inside the government department that changed our minds and saved us billions”.
I look forward to reading it.