Handbook of Behavioural Change and Public Policy
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Handbook of Behavioural Change and Public Policy

Edited by Holger Straßheim and Silke Beck

Behavioural change has become a core issue of public policy. Behavioural instruments such as ‘nudging’ apply insights from behavioural economics and behavioural sciences, psychology and neurosciences across a broad range of policy areas. Behavioural insights teams and networks facilitate the global spread of behavioural public policies. Despite an ever-growing amount of literature, research has remained fragmented. This comprehensive Handbook unites interdisciplinary scholarship, with contributions critically assessing the state and direction of behavioural public policies, their normative implications and political consequences.
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Chapter 12: Behaviouralizing Europe: behavioural economics enters EU policy-making

P.W. (Peter-Wim) Zuidhof


This chapter evaluates the rise of behavioural economics as a policy paradigm within EU policy-making. The chapter first charts how behavioural insights have filtered into EU policy: what insights were imported and in which policy areas they emerged. It then maps the type of actors and organizations that have been instrumental in disseminating behavioural economics. How did these actors translate theoretical insights into EU policy? The aim of the chapter is to determine how the adoption of behavioural insights is changing the political orientation of the EU. Do these represent a retreat from once-popular neoliberal, market-making policies towards liberal market-regulating principles, or do they indicate a move in a different direction? The chapter concludes by arguing that while behavioural approaches to EU policy remain modest to date, they present a considerable shift in the policy outlook of the EU in unprecedented directions, with potentially significant political implications.

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