Sludge Audits

15 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2019 Last revised: 2 May 2019

See all articles by Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein

Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: April 27, 2019

Abstract

Consumers, employees, students, and others are often subjected to “sludge”: excessive or unjustified frictions, such as paperwork burdens, that cost time or money; that may make life difficult to navigate; that may be frustrating, stigmatizing, or humiliating; and that might end up depriving people of access to important goods, opportunities, and services. Because of behavioral biases and cognitive scarcity, sludge can have much more harmful effects than private and public institutions anticipate. To protect consumers, investors, employees, and others, firms, universities, and government agencies should regularly conduct Sludge Audits to catalogue the costs of sludge, and to decide when and how to reduce it. Much of human life is unnecessarily sludgy. Sludge often has costs far in excess of benefits, and it can have hurt the most vulnerable members of society.

Suggested Citation

Sunstein, Cass R., Sludge Audits (April 27, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3379367 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3379367

Cass R. Sunstein (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts Ave
Areeda Hall 225
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-2291 (Phone)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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