With an increasing number of public bodies interested in leveraging behavioural insights for improving policies and services, questions have emerged around how best to integrate this function into government operations, how projects should be selected, and what guidelines can aid public bodies in incorporating behavioural insights.

The World Bank report ‘Behavioral Science Around the World: Profiles of 10 Countries’ aims to capture both the spread and form of behavioural science in 10 countries, selected based on being innovators or early adopters in the field: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Authors hope that the experiences of these ten countries – including information on how public bodies within these countries are integrating behavioural insights, how they are working to apply behavioural insights, and how these behavioural functions have been structured and staffed – can serve as useful information for all those working to leverage behavioural science to improve society. Given the expansion of behavioural science within governments; the shifting behavioural insights landscape; and the limit to, and wide distribution of, public information; the report presents a representative snapshot of the state of behavioural science within the governments of the profiled countries.

Behavioural science in Australia

The report covers work by the following behavioural insights teams within government at the central, departmental, and regional levels, noting that evidence from behavioural sciences in the public sphere has been explored at the Australian central government since at least 2007.

  • Central level: Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government (BETA).
  • Departmental level: Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC); Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE); Department of Health – Behavioural Economics and Research Team (BERT); Department of Jobs and Small Business (DJSB); Australian Tax Office (ATO); Department of Social Services (DSS); Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC); Department of Human Services.
  • Sub-National behavioural insights: New South Wales Behavioural Insight Unit (NSW BIU); Victorian Behavioural Insights Unit.

(Source: World Bank Report)


From the blog:

Behavioural Insights and Public Policy: A Discussion – Part 1 and Part 2, by Maria Sandoval Guzman

Nudging Businesses to Pay Their Taxes: Does Timing Matter?, by Christian Gillitzer and Mathias Sinning

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