IPA Conference on Public Application of Behavioural Science

16 Dec 2019 -- Posted by : chrissy

On December 5th in Lima, Peru - ODF partner IPA co-hosted an academic and public policy conference on the role behavioural economics can play in shaping public policy, along with CAF Development Bank and the Behavioural Government Lab.The aim of the conference was to initiate collaborations and to share ideas that would link public institutions to academia to facilitate the implementation of more effective social policies.Through panel discussions and speeches from a number of top academics and government officials, the event covered a range of key themes with the important take-away being that through sharing data and investigations into human behaviour, collaborating to change public policy effectively is within reach.

Lucia del Carpio presented her findings on using social norms and assumptions to influence those paying their taxes in the areas of Barranco and Jesus Maria, Lima. Compliance to pay increased when citizens believed that others around them were paying their taxes too, an interesting observation that could be applied to change behaviour in a number of circumstances. The importance of a nudge to initiate change at certain levels. Daniel Ortega (CAF) spoke on impact evaluation as a very useful tool for public management, in making impact data available to the government it will help to improve and develop a culture of learning within this sector.He pointed out the obvious obstacles that a government face such as: risk, cost and time, although issues such as the cost can be avoided through the diversification of resources.In the panel session, Paul Gertler (UC Berkeley) pointed out that the focus of policy does not just need to look at the number of children (for example) are being helped but to what extent this intervention is helping, how many of them are actually actively participating in education? There is the need for institutional change, with the expertise and knowledge of highly qualified individuals, the data that has been collected now needs to be used. There have been previous examples of huge sums of money being invested into educational programs and then it is proven that they have little to no impact, essentially a waste of resources and opportunity, something that should be avoided. He went on to show data on the lack of trust that many have in the systems such as the bank and that for policies to be successful, there needs to be a level of trust from the public which will come with the presentation of data.He presented a further 10 fascinating field experiments predominantly from Latin America and on inquiry and problem based pedagogy to show effects on learning.

Other speakers included Gaby Cuadra (PRONABEC), who spoke on reforms to increase services and the challenges that were faced along with strategies to surpass them; Monica Muñoz (MINEDU), who presented on MineduLAB on behavioural sciences and experiments to improve efforts and where the government can improve in the border areas and Carlos Casas (Faculty of Economics and Finance), he highlighted the importance in managing trade-off in the perfect experiment and the relevant evidence.

Due to the high turnout to both the conference and to the 2-day workshop that took place beforehand, there are plans for a similar event to take place in Colombia in the near future. Feedback on this event has been very encouraging and has highlighted to the space for government officials and academics to work together to generate evidence and instigate social change. This signals to the demand and the interest of state-level policy innovations through the cooperation with academia across the region, a very positive step for poverty alleviation.




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