Using “Nudges” to Improve Social Programs


Can small changes based on the insights of behavioral science improve the effectiveness of social programs?

Research has shown that small changes in the environment can facilitate behaviors and decisions that are in people’s best interest. For example, a change in the way messages or requirements are worded may increase the likelihood that program participants make positive choices. However, there has been relatively little exploration of the potential application of this science to complex, large-scale human services programs. With funding from the Administration for Children and Families, MDRC has been testing low-cost behavioral science interventions that can make programs more effective and, ultimately, improve the well-being of low-income children, adults, and families.

Join Therese Leung as she talks to three guests about MDRC’s work in behavioral science, with a particular focus on improving child support programs:

  • Susan Brown, Director of the Child Support Enforcement Agency, Franklin County, OH
  • Emily Schmitt, Senior Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Michael Johns, Research Associate at MDRC


About MDRC’s “Evidence First” Podcast Series

http://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/img/Therese_Leung_large.jpgPolicymakers talk about solutions, but which ones really work? Join Therese Leung as she talks with MDRC researchers about the best evidence available on education and social programs that serve low-income people.

Therese Leung is the Associate Director of External Affairs where she helps lead MDRC’s outreach to Congress, federal agencies, advocacy organizations, and think tanks. Therese used to work as an advisor to the Committee on Education and Labor in the House of Representatives and at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, DC.