New Way of Influencing Behavior Through Public Policy

A key aspect in the public policy domain is influencing behavior. Policy makers have employed various tools/techniques to shape behavior. Some of the traditional tools/methodologies include regulation and legislature. As much as these tools may be effective, the approach is not advantageous since governments incur expensive costs in law enforcement. This in turn has led to an increased focus on behavioral science in recent years as the approach has proved to be low cost with a relatively increased effectiveness. Implications of behavioral science are therefore part and parcel of the initiative which aims at designing a framework that incorporates behavioral insights into public policy making. The approach was first initiated in the UK, when David Cameron established a Behavioral Insights (Nudge) team in 2010. The Nudge team utilized behavioral concepts to in turn reduce rates of fraud, together with an increase in savings and recruitment levels within minority communities. The Obama administration also put its Nudge team into place in 2013, followed by the Government of Australia 2015. Considering the above case studies of successful application of the behavioral approach to public policy, most countries should consider non-coercive policy making methodology.

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