Behavioural Insights and Public Policy

Behavioural Insights and Public Policy

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Author(s):
OECD
01 Mar 2017
Pages:
404
ISBN:
9789264270480 (PDF) ;9789264269071(print)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264270480-en

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“Behavioural insights”, or insights derived from the behavioural and social sciences, including decision making, psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, organisational and group behaviour, are being applied by governments with the aim of making public policies work better. As their use has become more widespread, however, questions are being raised about their effectiveness as well as their philosophical underpinnings. This report discusses the use and reach of behavioural insights, drawing on a comprehensive collection of over 100 applications across the world and policy sectors, including consumer protection, education, energy, environment, finance, health and safety, labour market policies, public service delivery, taxes and telecommunications. It suggests ways to ensure that this experimental approach can be successfully and sustainably used as a public policy tool.

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  • Foreword and acknowledgements

    “Behavioural insights” lessons derived from the behavioural and social sciences, including decision making, psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, organisational and group behaviour are being applied by governments with the aim of making public policies work better. As behavioural insights increasingly contribute to shaping and implementing public policies, questions are being raised about the effectiveness as well as the philosophical underpinnings of some of these applications. Can small-scale experiments be scaled up and applied widely? Can policies based on the use of behavioural insights stand the test of time? How can unethical uses of behavioural insights be avoided? Can behavioural insights make inroads into policy areas beyond consumer policy, which has so far witnessed the largest application of behavioural insights?

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    Public policy needs to understand human behaviour better and promote behavioural change through a more scientific approach. Both practitioners and researchers have actively embraced ‘behavioural insights’, leading to the creation of high-level policy initiatives and shifts in research attention across disciplines. Equally, there has been growth of a more critical literature, questioning the philosophical underpinnings of the move towards behavioural economics, commenting on the wider range of interventions that have been labelled “behavioural”, or questioning the wider applicability of behavioural insights for policy making.

  • Why bother? Context and approach

    This chapter discusses the state of play regarding the application of behavioural insights to policy in a global context, providing examples from within and outside government. It then presents the methodology adopted for collecting case studies from government, academic and practitioner networks around the world.

  • What's going on? Insights from the behavioural insight case studies

    This chapter provides evidence on the extensive practice of behavioural insights, as well as the wide range of institutional models and practices present in OECD member and partner countries. Results also show that there is room for improvement, particularly in regard to evaluation, transparency and applying behavioural insights throughout the policy cycle.

  • Where to go next? Shaping a policy and research agenda

    This chapter discusses the key questions and issues raised by the survey, with suggestions of a way forward to solving them. It provides recommendations for new frontier thinking regarding the application of behavioural insights to policy, as well as recommendations for setting guiding principles or standards for its continued used by public bodies.

  • Behavioural insights case studies: Consumer protection

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool for ensuring that markets operate fairly and to help consumers make good choices. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resource-intensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

  • Behavioural insights case studies: Education

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool to improve academic and social outcomes. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resourceintensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

  • Behavioural insights case studies: Energy

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool for promoting energy efficiency. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resource-intensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

  • Behavioural insights case studies: Environment

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool for promoting sustainable behaviour that benefits the environment. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resource-intensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

  • Behavioural insights case studies: Financial products

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool for helping consumers access financial markets and products in a fair and beneficial manner. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resource-intensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

  • Behavioural insights case studies: Health and safety

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool for promoting healthy lifestyles, improving access to medical treatments, and changing organisational behaviour. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resource-intensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

  • Behavioural insights case studies: Labour market

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool for improving access to the labour market, improving labour market skills, and changing organisational behaviour. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resource-intensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

  • Behavioural insights case studies: Public service delivery

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool for improving the way government delivers services to citizens, as well as improving compliance amongst regulated entities. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resourceintensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

  • Behavioural insights case studies: Tax

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool for increasing compliance with the tax code and repaying tax debt. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resource-intensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

  • Behavioural insights case studies: Telecommunications

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool for improving consumer protection and choice in the telecommunications market, as well as improving compliance amongst regulated entities. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resource-intensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

  • Additional behavioural insights case studies

    This chapter provides a series of case studies detailing how behavioural insights have been applied in OECD member and partner countries as a tool for improving consumer outcomes and changing organisational behaviour in various policy fields. Case studies presented utilise a breadth of experimental methods, ranging from resource-intensive randomised controlled trials to relatively less resource-intensive literature reviews. The open and transparent sharing of what works, and what does not, is vital to ensuring that good quality research and findings are shared widely.

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