Nudges abound

Over the last few days, lots of links and brief observations have poured into the blog. Some highlights are below.

Parking: Paul Sweeney observes that the parking spaces in Florence are the size of a smart car, making them unwelcome to hulking sedans and trucks. (Of course the streets are much narrower too!) If cities want to reduce driving in their urban cores, why not paint the parking space lines closer together?

Alarm clocks: Who knew all the ways these would turn out to be nudges? First, there was the alarm clock that hides under the bed when it goes off; then there was the alarm clock that donates to an organization you despite each time you hit the snooze button; now there is the alarm clock that won’t stop buzzing until you do thirty reps with it. It’s shaped like a dumbbell. Maybe it will one day come in different weights. (Hat tip: Adora Tsang)

Spending: We’re not sure nudging spending by anyone carrying around massive credit card debt should be a government policy goal, but Dan Newman thinks federal tax cuts/rebates/refunds – pick your favorite description – should come as debit cards ($2,000, he says) instead of checks. That way, none of it could be socked away in a bank. The Obama administration has considered this idea, but thinks it is not yet logistically feasible. It was tried after Katrina, but getting cards out to tens of thousands in a few cities is much different than getting them to tens of millions in cities everywhere.

Vending machines: The University of Virginia has created a vending machine that uses the traffic light system to label various food options. The machine still sells junk food like chips and soda, but it adds a 5-cent surcharge for each one, which is donated to a children’s fitness clinic. The University’s provost told Governing magazine that year-to-year sales of green light items increased by more than 16 percent, while red light items fell by 5 percent. Apparently the clinic got the proceeds, $7,000, in nickels.

Star Trek: Ok, so this one isn’t a nudge. We weren’t the only ones who drew a link between Econs and Vulcans. So did Princeton political economy professor Uwe Reinhardt, who calls traditional economics Spockonomics.

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4 Responses to “Nudges abound”

  1. Doug Says:

    Good afternoon. I thought you would enjoy this little nudge I found from Square Trade. I recently bought a warranty for my iPhone from Square Trade (something along the lines of $175 for 3 years to replace any/every damage ever for my 16GB iPhone).

    I just got a plastic/gel protecting cover in the mail from Square Trade.

    They’re spending some good, cheap money to ensure that I have a protector on my iPhone, not to mention that it’s a great source of advertising for their company… right on my iPhone.

    I used it.

  2. Maria Says:

    Does the donating alarm clock still donate if you turn it off rather than hitting snooze? I think it would need to, or else it would be tempting to risk falling back to sleep again with no snooze alarm.
    Also, I don’t think you can really make the parking one into a nudge in most places anymore, because there are simply too many large cars – surely people will start parking over two spaces, destroying the law and order of the parking place. Eventually they’d replace their chelsea tractors with smart cars, but it wouldn’t happen overnight!

  3. OMB Director Peter Orzag uses a commitment strategy for his marathon training « Nudge blog Says:

    [...] on NPR. Hat tip: Economix, which also digs up a new favorite for our growing collection of alarm clocks. This one doesn’t turn off unless you feed it [...]

  4. Personal Injury Attorney Augusta Says:

    The dumbbell alarm clock is hilarious! I really want to get one of those. Really that is a marvelous way to wake up. Great post.

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