In this commentary originally published in Route Fifty, experts from MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science and BIT North America describe how government agencies can use behavioral science to adapt policies, programs, and services during the continuing pandemic crisis.
When Behavioral Interventions Aren’t Enough
Philip Oreopoulos’s commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project addresses the limitations of written communication and describes the value of personal interactions for building trusting relationships between service providers and clients, which in turn encourage active program participation.
Dilip Soman looks at the pros and cons of using heuristics in general and the “SIMPLER” framework in particular ― developed specifically by the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project ― to guide practitioners in their efforts to improve human services programs.
Researchers developing behavioral interventions begin by defining a problem, identifying “bottlenecks” that might hamper desired outcomes, and designing and testing possible solutions. In this Expert Commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, Crystal Hall suggests three ideas for expanding the use of this process.
Lawrence Katz explores questions raised by findings from the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project: the potential effect of behavioral nudges on long-term outcomes, determining who responds to behavioral nudges but would not otherwise participate in a program, and moving to higher-intensity efforts when low-cost interventions are not enough.
The SIMPLER framework was developed for the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project ― the first major effort to apply behavioral insights to human services programs in the United States. SIMPLER summarizes several key behavioral concepts that can guide practitioners interested in using behavioral insights to enhance service delivery.
In this commentary from the final report on the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project, Sheldon Danziger talks about the value of incorporating insights from behavioral science into new system-level interventions when developing policies to help low-income populations.
Final Results from the Family Self-Sufficiency Study in New York City
FSS provides case management services and a long-term escrow-savings account to housing-assisted families; an enhanced version also offered short-term cash work incentives. Six-year results of the random assignment evaluation show few significant effects overall for either program. However, the enhanced program increased employment and earnings for participants not working at enrollment.
Final Report of the Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) Project
The BIAS project tested behavioral interventions in child support, child care, and work support programs with nearly 100,000 low-income clients in eight human services agencies. Each site saw at least one significant, low-cost impact. The findings suggest that small environmental changes can enhance client-agency interactions and expanded behavioral strategies might help strengthen programs and policies.
The Work of MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science
This issue focus describes how MDRC’s Center for Applied Behavioral Science has completed several large-scale field studies, incorporated behavioral science into other MDRC projects, and educated policymakers and practitioners about how to use behavioral science to improve their programs.