research@hec - Issue #28 - (Page 2)

CSR research hec Public health How to encourage people to have a healthier lifestyle To fight against health problems like obesity, smoking, and alcohol abuse, governments are experimenting with new ways of regulating lifestyles. These methods, or incentives, usually involve a “nudge” that takes advantage of the irrational patterns in human behavior to encourage people to make the least harmful choices for their health. Alberto Alemanno B IOGRAPHY Alberto Alemanno has been a professor at HEC since 2009. He teaches EU law and risk regulation. He is also editor-in-chief of the review European Journal of Risk Regulation. He holds degrees from Harvard Law School and the College of Europe in Bruges, and a PhD in international law and economics from Bocconi University. Health risk factors include hidden fats and sugars in processed foods, as well as cigarettes and alcohol. When consumed in excess, they can cause diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart problems, and chronic respiratory problems, which are responsible for more than half of deaths worldwide. To fight against this increasing phenomenon, public policy makers are trying out new approaches to modify lifestyle habits. A new type of measure has emerged, which seeks to take into account how people actually behave, and not how they are expected to behave as rational agents. Alberto Alemanno, who has focused on the particular case of tobacco, does not beat around the bush: “A growing number of studies show that human beings do not always act in a way that maximizes their interests, making decisions, for example, that lead to short-term pleasure but do not take into account long-term negative effects.” sion-making process to influence choices. This can mean, for example, presenting food in a cafeteria so that people choose salad, fruit, and vegetables rather than foods with poor nutritional quality. This form of governance, which is based on "choice architecture," is still in the experimental phase. The Conservative-led government in the UK is the only one to date to have created an administration to implement the approach. THE GENTLE NUDGE The nudge approach is based on findings in behavioral research, which draws on economics, psychology, anthropology, and sociology. It aims to gently encourage (nudge) individuals to make better decisions while maintaining their freedom of choice. As such, managers take advantage of patterns of irrationality to shape the context and deci- THE FIGHT AGAINST SMOKING The nudge method holds promise for the fight against smoking. Many countries worldwide have gradually established regulation that is now universally accepted. But smoking remains the leading cause of avoidable deaths in both the developed world and in emerging countries. The nudge approach could help to work out the contradictions of traditional methods, whereby states encourage citizens to stop smoking by multiplying publicity campaigns and by increasing taxes, while at the same time organizing the official sale of tobacco and financing a good portion of their budget through taxation. When it comes to tobacco, the traditional “command and control” method is necessary to restrict access to the product, by banning smoking in public places, for example. The first objective is to reject smok- 2 • August-September 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of research@hec - Issue #28

Cover & Contents
Public health: How to encourage people to have a healthier lifestyle
“Double jeopardy”: How the market penalizes the poorest
Responsible financing: You don’t have to be a star to play a major role

research@hec - Issue #28