Behavioural public policies or nudges have become ever more popular in recent years, with governments and other public agencies increasingly keen to use light-touch interventions to improve public policies. Nudge units and their equivalents have been established across the world, and bureaucrats often use experiments to test out behavioural interventions. By asking how far to nudge, the book is a review of how behavioural economists, think tank advocates and policy-makers have used nudges, providing many examples of good practice. Some common criticisms of nudge are also reviewed, as is the ethical debate about the loss of individual autonomy. The core claim of the book is that policy-makers could go further than they do currently by adopting a more radical version of the research and policy agenda. By incorporating more conscious thought into behavioural public policies, what is called ‘nudge plus’, while at the same time encouraging a bottom-up and decentralised approach to formulating and authorising nudges, policy-makers can design policies that give more agency to citizens.
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Agnes Batory, Andrew Cartwright and Diane Stone
In this introductory chapter to the volume, the authors examine on the one hand the concepts of policy transfer and policy diffusion and, on the other, the concept of policy failure and success within the general context of Europeanization in Central and Eastern Europe. They invite contributors to address two main sets of questions: To what degree was the policy/institution/idea under consideration transferred intact or modified? And did the resulting policy or institution come to be viewed as a success or failure, or somewhere in between? The chapters that follow highlight that policy ‘transfer’ processes are often non-linear and fuzzy and sometimes counter-intuitive, and point to the central importance of the views, interests and constellations of the domestic actors that filter and interpret international influences. In this sense, the CEE experience in the years since accession is as much about active and sometimes strategic policy imports and policy distortion and perhaps less about simple receipt and incorporation of external models.
Starting from a definition of constructivism and its uses in European integration, the chapter analyses the promises and limits of the approach for public policy studies at the EU level. The constructivist turn allowed for asking new questions with regard to European integration, such as, how do cognitive frames shape policies in the specific institutional context? Why do actors act as they do, beyond purely cost–benefit-based analysis, or in other words why do they define policy problems in a specific way? The answers to these questions helped to understand European integration not only as a federalist system, a functionalistic spillover project, or an intergovernmental entity whose progress is dependent on member state interests, but as a complex political system in which interests were embedded in cognitive frames. However, EU constructivist approaches slightly underestimated the power of actors to pick and choose adequate framings to defend their preferences. This limit was tackled in the most recent actor-centred perspective of constructivism which the chapter develops in more detail.
Marietta E.A. Haffner
In many Western European countries including the Netherlands and France, the market share of private renting decreased massively after World War II. Often strict rent control is deemed to also be responsible for this development. Yet more recent development indicates a further decline of the sector in the Netherlands, whereas its market share stabilized in France. This chapter explains the development of the private rental sector resulting from private individual or person landlords leaving the sector in the Netherlands, but staying in operation as landlords in France. While in France the institutional landlords/investors retreated, in the Netherlands they kept up their rental stock until the subsidization of new investment became less attractive and in the end was abolished. How ‘rent tenure’-neutral subsidization seems to have played a role, is the central focus of this chapter.
Katharine McGowan, Frances Westley and Ola Tjörnbo
Ana Rosa Ribeiro de Mendonça and Simone Deos
The authors emphasize an overlooked raison d’être for public banks. They argue that limiting public banks to filling the gaps left by private banks, the standard argument in economics, neglects a very important dimension of public banks, that is, their capacity to act countercyclically and thereby stabilize access to credit during economic downturns. Taking a cue from Hyman Minsky, they point to the immanent volatility of financial markets dominated by private actors. In order to counter destabilizing tendencies, the presence of institutions with the logic of action that differs from that of the market is necessary. As public banks are not primarily concerned with profitability, they can play this role. To a certain extent, their presence in the market is an automatic stabilizer because public banks provide credit with long maturation. In times of crisis, they can also be used for discretionary intervention, that is, opening up new credit lines.