All hail the nudge? This NY Times article discusses the challenge of bringing about behavioral change in the Mississippi Delta so that people eat more healthy foods and fewer fried foods. When people ignore information that will “help them”, how do you explain that? Do you say that they are impatient? or do you blame their region’s culture? If we aspire to be good statisticians, how would you rigorously test your hypotheses?
If we paid these individuals to eat healthy food, would this be effective as households would learn about tasting new foods and might feel the short run health benefits.
Harvard’s Roland Fryer is running field experiments in which he pays kids for school achievement and for effort. I interpret his efforts as trying to “change the culture”. If studying becomes “cool” in inner-city schools (because you can make some $ doing it), then kids will devote more effort and school performance will improve.