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To evaluate the association between three behavioural economics ‘nudges’ and store sales of promoted healthier foods.
Multiple interrupted time series.
Two predominantly rural counties in central North Carolina, USA.
Aggregated store transaction data from two grocery stores (one intervention, one control) and two convenience stores (one intervention, one control) were analysed using ANOVA to examine the association between three ‘nudges’ and store sales of promoted items. The nudges included: a ‘cognitive fatigue’ experiment, in which floor arrows guided customers to the produce sections; a ‘scarcity’ experiment, in which one sign in one area of the produce section portrayed a ‘limited amount’ message; and a ‘product placement’ experiment, where granola bars were moved into the candy bar aisle.
In convenience stores, there were no significant differences between sales of the promoted items during the intervention period for any of the nudges when implemented individually. However, compared with baseline sales, implementation of all three nudges simultaneously was associated with an increase in sales during the intervention period based on proportional computations (P = 0·001), whereas no significant changes in sales were observed in the control convenience store. Among the grocery stores, there were no significant differences in sales during the intervention period for any of the nudges or the combined intervention compared with baseline sales.
Implementing three nudges concurrently in a convenience store setting may increase sales of promoted items. However, before stores consider implementing these nudges to increase sales of nutritious foods, additional research is warranted.
The system accounts in the previous chapters provide a description of the developments of the environment, society and economy as well as the distribution. But the accounts do not answer the question: Are things getting better? In the Global Quality Accounts (GQA), the data from the system accounts are assessed using a quality perspective. In economics, welfare economics and the capital approach are most common, but there are many others as well, from social sciences or natural sciences. There is no perfect approach, just multiple ways of looking at systemic progress. Each of the systems leads to a quality indicator, which provide society with different views.
The previous chapters have shown that there is one powerful community (“the GDP multinational") which is being challenged by a heterogeneous and weakly organised community (“the Beyond-GDP cottage industry). The ever-expanding range of Beyond-GDP initiatives will not lead to success however. A new strategy is based on the GDP success story and aims to create an institutionalised community with a clear goal and coherent structure based on a common language. The chapter argues that the community should not be based on the SDGs, green accounting or the SEEA. It also argues that the community should not be based on economic terminology and theory but rather on multidisciplinary building blocks such as stock/flow accounting, networks and limits. The aim of the community is to enhance well-being and sustainability and one of its most important features is its common language: the System of Global and National Accounts (SGNA). The SGNA has four system accounts (environment, society, economy and distribution), which describe how the systems are developing. However, this does not yet tell people whether the developments are good or bad. This is left to the quality accounts.
To test the effect of a behavioural economics intervention in two food pantries on the nutritional quality of foods available at the pantries and the foods selected by adults visiting food pantries.
An intervention (SuperShelf) was implemented in two food pantries (Sites A and B), with two other pantries (Sites C and D) serving as a control for pantry outcomes. The intervention aimed to increase the amount and variety of healthy foods (supply), as well as the appeal of healthy foods (demand) using behavioural economics strategies. Assessments included baseline and 4-month follow-up client surveys, client cart inventories, pantry inventories and environmental assessments. A fidelity score (range 0–100) was assigned to each intervention pantry to measure the degree of implementation. A Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) score (range 0–100) was generated for each client cart and pantry.
Four Minnesota food pantries, USA.
Clients visiting intervention pantries before (n 71) and after (n 70) the intervention.
Fidelity scores differed by intervention site (Site A=82, Site B=51). At Site A, in adjusted models, client cart HEI-2010 scores increased on average by 11·8 points (P<0·0001), whereas there was no change at Site B. HEI-2010 pantry environment scores increased in intervention pantries (Site A=8 points, Site B=19 points) and decreased slightly in control pantries (Site C=−4 points, Site D=−3 points).
When implemented as intended, SuperShelf has the potential to improve the nutritional quality of foods available to and selected by pantry clients.
Recent debates on the nature of preferences in economics have typically assumed that they are to be interpreted either as behavioural regularities or as mental states. In this paper I challenge this dichotomy and argue that neither interpretation is consistent with scientific practice in choice theory and behavioural economics. Preferences are belief-dependent dispositions with a multiply realizable causal basis, which explains why economists are reluctant to make a commitment about their interpretation.
Popper’s ‘Situational Analysis’ (SA) constitutes his methodological proposal for the social sciences. We claim that the two hallmarks of SA are: (i) that scientists assume they possess a ‘wider’ view of the problem-situation than actors do, and (ii) use the model as an ideal ‘benchmark’ scenario to identify the deviation of actors’ actual behaviour from the former. We argue that SA is not a generalization of the neoclassical theory of individual behaviour but captures instead the methodology adopted by modern behavioural economists. Last, we argue that SA highlights a way of acquiring knowledge that has gone unnoticed in the literature.
Portion sizes and bowl sizes may be related to food intake and perceived fullness. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of portion size and bowl size and possible interactions between these variables on food intake and fullness in a sample of Japanese men.
Participants ate four different experimental meals across four weeks and completed questionnaires about their fullness using a visual analogue scale administered before and after meals. The four meal patterns included consistent portions of several foods commonly eaten together in typical Japanese meals, along with 150 g of rice served in a small rice bowl (diameter of 11·5 cm), 150 g of rice served in a large rice bowl (diameter of 13·5 cm), 250 g of rice served in a small rice bowl or 250 g of rice served in a large rice bowl.
Twenty-one adult men participated in the study.
Portion size had a significant main effect on rice intake (F(1,20)=83, P<0·001) and fullness (F(1,20)=8·0, P=0·010), but no significant effects of bowl size on the outcome variables were found. The interactions between portion size and bowl size on intake and fullness were not significant.
The sample of Japanese men showed an influence of portion size on food intake. Further research is needed to clarify the combined effects of bowl size and portion size on intake and fullness.
Amos Tversky, Daniel Kahneman, Dan Ariely and others detect irrationality when decision makers get led astray by how a decision problem is framed. They find that test subjects respond inconsistently when the same decision problem is described differently. But when are two decisions the same? The participants in their experiments are not decision theorists and cannot be counted on to read or approach the problems ‘properly.’ They may find sources of utility where researchers least suspect, and change payoffs that ‘ought’ to remain constant.
Contemporary behavioural economics has documented common failures of reasoning that apparently make possible policies that benefit individuals by contravening or correcting their judgements. These policies appear to be paternalistic, even though a traditional view would deny that they are paternalistic on the grounds that policies such as nudges do not restrict individual liberty. It appears to many that a new definition of paternalism that takes its cue from behavioural economics is needed. Furthermore, if one revises the definition of paternalism, one must revisit traditional views concerning whether paternalist policies are wise. In Government Paternalism, Julian Le Grand and Bill New make a valuable start, although some corrections are needed. This essay provides a general setting for revising the definition of paternalism and suggests a revised definition of paternalism.
To examine the feasibility of implementing nine behavioural economics-informed strategies, or ‘nudges’, that aimed to encourage home dinner vegetable intake among low-income children.
Caregivers were assigned six of nine strategies and implemented one new strategy per week (i.e. 6 weeks) during three dinner meals. Caregivers recorded child dinner vegetable intake on the nights of strategy implementation and rated the level of difficulty for assigned strategies. Baseline data on home vegetable availability and child vegetable liking were collected to assess overall strategy feasibility.
Participants’ homes in a large Midwestern metropolitan area, USA.
Pairwise comparisons showed that child dinner vegetable intake for the strategy ‘Serve at least two vegetables with dinner meals’ was greater than intake for each of two other strategies: ‘Pair vegetables with other foods the child likes’ and ‘Eat dinner together with an adult(s) modelling vegetable consumption’. Overall, caregivers’ mean rating of difficulty for implementing strategies was 2·6 (1=‘not difficult’, 10=‘very difficult’). Households had a mean of ten different types of vegetables available. Children reported a rating ≥5 for seventeen types of vegetable on a labelled hedonic scale (1=‘hate it’, 5–6=‘it’s okay’, 10=‘like it a lot’).
Behavioural economics-informed strategies are feasible to implement during dinner meals, with some strategies differing by how much they influence vegetable intake among low-income children in the home.
Many colleges are removing trays from their dining facilities in hope of reducing waste. How does not having a tray impact food choice?
A field study was conducted in a university cafeteria (n 417) on two evenings with identical menus, one with tray service and one without.
A dining hall of a large north-eastern university, USA.
Trayless dining decreased the percentage of diners (average age 19·1 years) who took salad by 65·2 % but did not decrease the percentage who took dessert, leading to a markedly higher ratio of dessert to salad.
Cafeterias going trayless should consider complementary policies to encourage balanced diets.
To examine whether requiring children to place fruits and vegetables on their lunch trays increases consumption of these items.
Observational study that exploited naturally occurring variation between two school districts and a pre–post observational study at schools that changed their lunch policy mid-year.
Fifteen elementary schools from two school districts, one requiring students to place a fruit or vegetable on their tray and one that does not. In addition, three schools that implemented a default option part way through the school year.
Students at eighteen elementary schools (41 374 child-day observations) across the two experiments.
Requiring that fruits and vegetables be placed on each child's tray increased the fraction of children who ate a serving of fruits or vegetables by 8 percentage points (P < 0·01) but led to an extra 0·7 servings being thrown away per lunch served (P < 0·01). The default option approach cost $US 1·72 to get one additional child to eat one serving of fruits and vegetables for 1 d. However, when default options were combined with a small rewards programme the efficacy of both interventions increased.
A default option, as a stand-alone programme, had only a limited impact on fruit and vegetable consumption but was much less cost-effective than other approaches. Schools requiring children to take fruits and vegetables with their lunch might consider adopting additional interventions to ensure that the additional items served do not end up being thrown away.
The Consumer Information Working Party has published this paper which explores how we can better engage consumers with long-term savings and investments. The working party considered the current state of consumer information, which is a long way from ideal, including: consumer insights and touch points, the current consumer information model, relevant considerations from behavioural economics, examples of information failures and some successes from other fields. They then propose a way to deliver more effective information, including a possible framework and some ideas for its application. They finish with proposals for immediate next steps and urge the Actuarial Profession to take a lead in this area.
Interventions framed through a behavioural lens, particularly ‘Nudge’, are gaining credence in US and UK policy circles, not least around healthcare. Key tenets of this ‘libertarian paternalist’ approach are discussed and related to sociological theory. The influential position of nudge begs sociological engagement, indeed its recognition of ‘choice architecture’ is partially congruent with sociological conceptions of structure-embedded agency. Though recognising the significance of norms, the analysis of nudge fails to appreciate their depth in terms of time, materiality and the socio-cultural. The potency and variable consequences of these social factors are emphasised through Bourdieu's concepts of habitus and field. This framework alongside various sociological approaches to risk and uncertainty are proposed as potentially fruitful paths of critical engagement.
How do pension fund trustees deal with demographic and economic shocks? We examine this issue by using a vignette study among pension fund trustees in the Netherlands. Trustees show asymmetric reactions to shocks in the level of reserves of pension funds. Pension premiums are upwardly flexible but trustees are reluctant to decrease premiums. Asymmetries are also revealed by choices regarding the inflation indexation of benefits and changing real (defined) benefits. Asymmetry is not visible in the policy responses to demographic shocks: increases in life expectancy are reflected by taking structural measures for a defined benefit contract: raising pension premiums and the pension age. Furthermore, trustees allow their choices to be affected by the forces of social comparison: the reserve position of their fund compared to the position of other funds has a significant influence in choosing pension fund policy instruments.
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