A New Approach to Development Policy
This paper is a key source for the 2015 World Development Report (Mind, Society and Behavior.) It presents existing and potential applications of behavioral economics to program design, which the authors argue is the key of an emerging science of design for development. The behavioral economics approach is built on recent research on how individuals and organizations, within specific cultural settings, make decisions. This changes how we "diagnose the problems, design the solutions to problems and define the scope of the problems". For the diagnosis, the authors propose a systematic process, which they call ‘behavioral mapping'. It begins with a problem, and identifies hypothesized behavioral bottlenecks, and seven principles to guide program design illustrated with many cases/research that illustrates the process.
Their principles are:
- Facilitate Self-Control by Employing Commitment Devices;
- Reduce the Need for Self-Control;
- Remove Snags to Choosing;
- Use Micro-Incentives;
- Reduce Inattention: Reminders and Implementation Intentions;
- Maximize the Impact of Messaging: Framing Effects, Social Comparisons, Norms; and
- Frame Messages to Match Mental Models.
To conclude, the authors recommend applying this approach to complex development problems whose solution is constrained by behavioral ‘bottlenecks' [example: high levels of teacher absences].