Excessive Alcohol consumption has always been a concern for most governments due to the negative effects it has on its citizens. Despite all the advices and information given to consumers by their surroundings, a decrease in the consumption is still not noticeable. Hence, governments have to use other techniques that could help them in achieving this goal. On way of doing so could be through nudging. As mentioned by Gigerenzer (2015), nudging refers to a technique used to have an impact on people’s behavior without the need to provide incentives to them. In this sense, government could use different nudging tools that may result to a decrease in alcohol consumption. Ginerenzer (2015) believes that there are several aspects to consider when talking about nudging. Firstly, policy makers define what is good for its citizens due to the irrationality in them. Secondly, nudging is applied for people to change their behavior in a positive direction. And lastly, to understand why it is important for governments to use nudging rather than education in changing citizens habits.
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Hence, governments could apply nudging techniques such as increase advertisement on non-alcoholic beers, or apply a ‘PAY BEFORE SERVED’ policy in bars to avoid consumers to feel like drinking more. In this way, some people may be attracted to the non-alcoholic beers which gives a similar sensation, and hence reduce alcohol consumption. Ryan (2017) claims that the use of behavioral economics in shaping policies arise due to the inability of policy makers to have an impact on individual behavior. Governments trying to impose rules to their citizens usually end up noticing no changes in habits, simply because citizens fight for their freedom. This is why nudging techniques could be efficient, because it provides individual freedom of choice and hence no imposition on what not to do. Nevertheless, as said by Ginerenzer (2015), ‘Nudging people without educating them means infantilizing the public’. In this sense, he believes that people need to be educated first, due to unforeseen circumstances such as a change in the leading party which may come with other interest rather than nudging.
Additionally, Dholakia (2016) Adds that nudging could fail to achieve the ultimate goal because it focuses on a narrow aspect in affecting consumers habits. This means that government can indeed decrease the amount of alcohol consumed, but cannot guarantee that the overall consumption will and its negative effects will be accepted. To conclude, nudging can be of great use to governments and policy makers in fighting against alcohol consumption. This is because it allows to use several efficient techniques that would influence consumer habits but still without taking their individual freedom of choice to make decision. However, this tool does not promise an overall achievement of goal mainly because it focuses on few aspects compared to a broad goal, and the neglect to educate the people on good habits.
- Gerd Gigerenzer, "On the Supposed Evidence for Libertarian Paternalism," Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6, 2015: 361-383. Ryan, J. (2017). To what extent have the policy recommendations of the Behavioural Insights Team been in accordance with nudge theory?. Graduate. University of twente.
- Dholakia, U. (2016). Why Nudging Your Customers Can Backfire. [online] Harvard business review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2016/04/why-nudging-your-customers-can-backfire .
- Colin F. Camerer and George Loewenstein, “Behavioral Economics: Past, Present, Future,” in Colin F. Camerer, George Loewenstein, and Matthew Rabin (editors), Advances in Behavioral Economics, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004: 3-51.