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A file photo of Richard Thaler. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)
A file photo of Richard Thaler. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

Richard Thaler wins Nobel Prize in economics

American economist Richard Thaler has won the 2017 Nobel Prize in economics ‘for his contributions to behavioural economics’

Oslo: University of Chicago’s Richard H. Thaler, one of the founders of behavioural economics and finance, was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics for shedding light on how human weaknesses such as a lack of rationality and self-control can ultimately affect markets.

The 72-year-old co-author of the 2008 best-seller Nudge has “built a bridge between the economic and psychological analyses of individual decision-making," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Monday.

“By exploring the consequences of limited rationality, social preferences, and lack of self-control, he has shown how these human traits systematically affect individual decisions as well as market outcomes," the academy said.

His “nudge" theory, outlined along with former White House adviser Cass Sunstein, suggests small incentives can prod people into making certain decisions. His work has informed politicians looking for ways to influence voters and shape societies at a time when budget deficits limited their scope to spend. Former US President Barack Obama and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron both appointed teams to study if behavioural economics could be used to save their governments money.

For example, writing to Britons to inform them that most people in their town had already paid their taxes was found to speed up payments. People were also found to be more likely to insulate their attics if they were offered help clearing them.

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