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Keywords:

  • behavioural economics;
  • nudge;
  • deliberative democracy;
  • citizen engagement;
  • public policy outcomes

This paper reviews two contrasting approaches governments use to engage the citizen to promote better public policy outcomes: nudging citizens using the insights of behavioural economics, as summarised by Thaler and Sunstein (2009) or giving citizens the space to think through and debate solutions, as indicated by proponents of deliberative democracy. The paper summarises each approach, giving examples; then it compares and contrast them, illustrating their relative strengths and weaknesses. The paper concludes by suggesting that the approaches share some common features and policy-makers could useful draw upon both.