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Letters...Why don’t you return to the status quo ante?

Behavior has a learning curve

One quibble I have with Richard Thaler’s argument, as described in Sharla Stewart’s “Can Behavioral Economics Save Us from Ourselves?” (February/05), is how little weight he seems to give to learning curves. He uses a single example of Sweden’s first experiment in giving working-age adults a choice in their retirement investment allocations to illustrate, basically, that too much choice is a bad thing. I believe the jury is still out, since not enough time has been given to judge what I anticipate would be corrective action by those who were burned by their early missteps (and by those who witnessed these missteps). In conversations with other investors who were similarly burned by dot-com investments, I’ve seen how experience changes behavior for the better without outside “guidance.”

Another quibble is Thaler’s speculation that the reason women were more likely to actively choose than men was that “women may be less likely to lose mail-in forms.” Is that a scientific observation?

Brendan Conner, MBA’98
La Grange Park, Illinois

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