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Promoting behavioral change is one of the central goals of regulation. According to an OECD report (2017), setting the “rules of the game” through behavioral change approaches promotes the competitive functioning of the economy while protecting citizens, the environment, and society. From the experiences of policymakers and regulators, the application and use of BIs allow them to understand and influence people’s behavior and design public policies that work better and cost less.
Studies show that applications of BIs in policymaking must incorporate the cultural context of target groups. Based on the nudge theory, a concept in behavioral economics, political theory, and behavioral sciences which proposes positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence the behavior and decision-making of groups or individuals, BIs have immense potential for more innovative government interventions to shape people’s behavior while achieving public policy objectives.
The APO publication Why Behavioral Insights Matter in Public Policy (2022) provides examples of the utilization of BIs such as allowing contractors to apply online for business licenses, resulting in shorter processing times, lower transaction costs, and improvements in overall productivity and public service quality. Other examples are cashless payment systems for government public services resulting in increased regulatory compliance among taxpayers and engaging parents in a primary school health program promoting drinking water to reduce childhood obesity rates.
While there are debates on the effectiveness of BI applications, examples around the world in education, energy, the environment, finance, health and safety, labor market policies, taxes, public service delivery, etc. have provided evidence that they can improve citizens’ welfare. As governments search for simpler, more effective regulatory solutions to promote more efficient outcomes, applications of BIs in public policy are becoming more common.
APO members that have adopted BIs in government policymaking include Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore. Other members could learn from their experiences in institutionalizing behavioral science, especially in making regulatory reform more efficient and effective. This workshop will therefore explore the BI concept and its applications, examine innovations in policymaking using behavioral science approaches, and analyze best practices of BI applications and lessons learned across different sectors.
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