Paternalism, Nudging and Liberty

8 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2018

Date Written: February 2018


The recent popularity of ‘nudge’ – involving governments structuring choices to lead individuals to choose outcomes which policymakers wish to encourage – has given rise to a belief that ‘libertarian paternalism’ offers a modern substitute for classical liberalism. But most governments are more paternalistic and less libertarian than nudge theorists. If ‘nudge’ was taken seriously, many existing laws would be repealed and few new laws would be made.

Keywords: behavioural economics, libertarianism, nudge, paternalism

Suggested Citation

Snowdon, Christopher, Paternalism, Nudging and Liberty (February 2018). Economic Affairs, Vol. 38, Issue 1, pp. 88-95, 2018, Available at SSRN: or

Christopher Snowdon (Contact Author)

Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) ( email )

2 Lord North Street, Westminster
London, SW1P 3LB
United Kingdom

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