I try to teach people to make fewer mistakes. But in designing economic policies, we need to take full account of the fact that people are busy, they're absent minded, they're lazy, and that we should try to make things as easy for them as possible.
Pundits are no better at forecasting election outcomes than they would be at predicting the final path of a hurricane. Smart pundits should consider either abandoning this activity or consulting with the geeks before rendering their guesses.
Most of us think that we are 'better than average' in most things. We are also 'miscalibrated,' meaning that our sense of the probability of events doesn't line up with reality. When we say we are sure about a certain fact, for example, we may well be right only half the time.
Morality aside, there are other factors deterring 'strategic defaults,' whether in recourse or nonrecourse states. These include the economic and emotional costs of giving up one's home and moving, the perceived social stigma of defaulting, and a serious hit to a borrower's credit rating.
It is true that I am one of the co-authors of 'Nudge,' and I am a behavioral economist, but it does not mean that everything we write about in that book is behavioral economics, nor does it mean that my co-author, the distinguished legal scholar Cass Sunstein, is a behavioral economist.
You go out on the practice range, and something kind of clicks, and you start hitting the ball very crisply. And you're sure that you've found it, the holy grail - that all you have to do is hold your hand in a certain way. Then you go out on the golf course, and it's completely disappeared.
As every successful parent learns, one way to encourage good behavior, from room-cleaning to tooth-brushing, is to make it fun. Not surprisingly, the same principle applies to adults. Adults like to have fun, too.