Sunday, November 13, 2022

Recent Behavioural Science and Policy Links November 13th

It is still very difficult to know fully what to do about posting on twitter. I have not deleted my account. I am not actively posting. I RT'd the happy announcement of one of our PhD students passing their viva on the basis that many people on my timeline know the student and would want to celebrate. My current mood with it is basically to see this as a transition phase before something new emerges.  I have continued to engage with mastodon (link here). It has been exciting to see various people and groups move there and I highly recommend trying it out but it is clearly still open as to what function it will begin to fill. The main problem for me is that there are many people on twitter I would like to stay connected to and it is sad to just burn all of that. For now, will continue to post here on the blog and link through mastodon and Linkedin. 

1. The Behavioural Economics Guide 2022. Always incredibly detailed and informative. 

2. The i-frame and the s-frame: How focusing on individual-level solutions has led behavioral public policy astray Article by Chater and Loewenstein in Behavioural and Brain Sciences is obviously generating a lot of commentary.

Abstract: Many behavioral scientists propose and test policy interventions that seek to 'fix' problems with individual behavior (adopting an "i-frame") rather than addressing the system in which individuals operate (an "s-frame"). The impact of such i-frame interventions has been disappointing and can reduce support for much-needed systemic reforms. Highlighting individual responsibility for societal problems is a long- established objective of corporate opponents of s-frame policies such as regulation and taxation. Thus, researchers advocating i-frame solutions may have unwittingly promoted the interests of the opponents of systemic change. Behavioral scientists can best contribute to public policy by employing their skills to develop and implement value-creating system-level change.

3. Paper by Herd and Moynihan connecting the administrative burden literature to the emerging behavioural public administration literature, introducing a symposium on behavioral implications of administrative burden

The topic of administrative burden is relatively novel, but reflects people’s most common experiences of government: confusion about what is expected of them (learning costs), onerous processes (compliance costs), and associated emotions such as frustration (psychological cost). This symposium applies a behavioral perspective to the topic. We learn, for example, of the role of race and social constructions in people’s beliefs about burdens and their role in social programs. We are given evidence of how burdens restrict access to important public services. Perhaps most usefully, the authors engage with different interventions to find ways to reduce burdens. This ranges from changes in the physical space, to process redesign, to informational nudges. The resulting work provides a broad range of applied empirical insight that shines a light on a pressing area of study.

4. Anomalies or Expected Behaviors? Understanding Stated Preferences and Welfare Implications in Light of Contemporary Behavioral Theory. Enjoyed working on this paper with colleagues that attempts to bridge the stated preference literature with the emerging literature on behavioural welfare economics. 

The stated preference literature contains an expansive body of research on behavioral anomalies, typically understood as response patterns that are inconsistent with standard neoclassical choice theory. While the literature often implies that anomalous behaviors are distinct to stated preferences, widespread evidence of similar patterns across real-world settings raises the potential for an alternative interpretation. We argue that these anomalies might actually reflect behaviors that are to be expected once deviations from the standard economic model and behavioral reactions to the choice architecture in stated preference surveys are considered. The article reviews and organizes the evidence of so-called “anomalous” stated preference behaviors within the context of behavioral science to provide guidance for applied welfare economics. We coordinate evidence on these anomalies using a typology grounded in behavioral science, which groups non-standard behaviors into: non-standard preferences, non-standard beliefs, and non-standard decision-making. We apply this typology to organize the evidence, clarify nomenclature, and understand the implications of non-standard behaviors in stated preference studies for applied welfare analysis. Observing the systematic and common nature of these behaviors in actual and hypothetical settings, we outline possibilities to overcome associated challenges for applied welfare analysis, by adapting new frameworks for welfare analysis proposed within behavioral science.

5. List of most-read papers on Behavioural Public Policy here. The FORGOOD paper is still there but more generally it is fascinating list of papers and the wider journal itself is a treasure-trove for people interested in developing a behavioural public policy literature bringing disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, and economics together to understand human behaviour in policy-relevant environments. 

6. "Ten years of Automatic Enrolment in Workplace Pensions: statistics and analysis"  Recent document released by UK government. The impact of auto-enrolment on pension participation in the UK has been extraordinary. Opt-out rates in line with the low numbers anticipated by the literature that led up to it.

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