Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increasing popularity of behavioral interventions—also known as nudges—is largely due to their perceived potential to promote public and private welfare at dramatically lower costs than those of traditional regulatory instruments, such as mandates or taxes. Yet, though nudges typically involve low implementation costs, scholars and policymakers alike tend to underestimate their often-substantial private costs. Once these costs are accounted for, most nudges turn out to generate significantly lower net benefits than assumed, and some prove less efficient or less cost-effective than traditional instruments. At other times, the private costs of behavioral interventions are sufficiently large to render them socially costly and undesirable even in the absence of superior traditional instruments. Policymakers who implement nudges without considering their private costs therefore risk doing harm rather than good.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1673-1729
Number of pages57
JournalDuke Law Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Copyright © 2023 Avishalom Tor. † Professor of Law and Director, Research Program on Law and Market Behavior, Notre Dame Law School (ND LAMB). This project benefited from the generous support of Notre Dame Law School and the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies. Earlier versions received helpful comments from Henrik Lando, Jeffrey Rachlinski, Hans-Bernd Schaefer, Omri Ben-Shahar, Steven Shavell, Cass Sunstein, and participants at a Copenhagen Business School workshop, the Notre Dame Law Faculty Workshop, the Annual Conference of the Israel Law and Society Association, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Law and Economics Workshop, and the New Frontiers in Law and Economics Seminar at Bucerius Law School. Alexandra Howell and Isabella Wilcox provided excellent research assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Avishalom Tor.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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