Seminar: Behavioral Economics in Action

Course content

Over the last 30 years, psychologists and economists have gained a deeper understanding of what motivates people, how they process information, and what non-economic features of the choice environment influence decisions. This seminar builds on this recent work of behavioral economics and allows the student to develop a hands-on approach and learn how the context can be modified to “nudge” choice. Emphasis will be on presenting and discussing specific topics in this literature: for instance, health and well-being, saving and spending, dishonesty and behavioral economics of education.


MSc programme in Economics
The seminar is primarily for students at the MSc of Economics

Learning outcome
  • Students review the most recent finding of behavioral economics and apply them to public policy.
  • Student identify the causes of a specific irrational behavior and analyze the consequences of this behavior for the society.
  • Students design (or conduct) experiments and policy interventions aiming at ameliorate societal well-being and improve people’s life.

Planning/start-up meeting, research and writing process of the seminar paper, sessions with presentation of own paper and critical evaluation/feedback to another student´s paper, actively participating in discussions at class.

Before the session a "so-finalized-as-possible"-draft of the paper must be uploaded in Absalon. After the presentations, the student submit an edited version of the paper in the Digital Exam portal as the final exam paper. The aim is that students use the presentation sessions as an opportunity to receive and use the constructive feedback to improve the paper.

Sunstein, Cass and Thaler, Richard (2008). Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Yale University Press.

Ly, K., Mazar, N., Zhao, M., Soman, D.; (2013) A Practitioner's Guide to Nudging; Research Report Series, Rotman School of Management.

Madrian Brigitte C. (2014) Applying Insights from Behavioral Economics to Policy Design. Annu. Rev. Econ. 2014. 6:30.1–30.26

Egan M. (2013) Nudge Database. Stirling Behavioural Science Blog.

A number of journal articles on specific topics.

This seminar does not require any previous knowledge of behavioral economics but the course Science of Behavior Change is strongly recommended. The references reported above introduce to the topic. However, students should have some basic knowledge of microeconomics, statistics and econometrics (basic courses taught at BA level).


- Planning meeting: February 8, 2017 from 13:00 to 15:00
- Extra days of teaching/supervision: students have the possibility to attend a weekly
meeting where they can interact with other students and scholars interested in behavioral
economics (TRIBE, more info here: https:/​/​​site/​tribecopenhagen)
- Presentations/Workshops: May 16 to 18, 2017

Venue will be available before the semester begins.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written examination
- a seminar paper in English.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
- up to 20 % censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

The student must in a satisfactory way demonstrate that he/she has mastered the learning outcome of the course and the objectives stated in the Curriculum.

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Seminar
  • 6
  • Project work
  • 200
  • English
  • 206