Ideology, ignorance and inertia – the three Is – on the part of the expert, the aid worker, or the local policy maker, often explain why policies fail. It is possible to make the world a better place – probably not tomorrow, but in some future that is within our reach – but we cannot get there with lazy thinking. We hope to persuade you that our patient, step-by-step approach is not only a more effective way….but also one that makes the world a more interesting place.
ABHIJIT V. BANERJEE AND ESTHER DUFLO, “Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty”, 2011
The use of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to evaluate public policies and programmes has become mainstream among social scientists and, increasingly, governments. RCTs promote robust, evidence-based policymaking, and give decision-makers the confidence that their selected policies will be effective. Yet the use of RCTs is still relatively new to many national and local governments in the region, partly because of the dearth of policy practitioners and researchers trained in this method.
Policymakers around the world have also begun to take seriously the insights offered by the growing field of behavioural economics and psychology. Instead of assuming that our citizens are the rational, interest-maximising agents we find in economics textbooks, behavioural economics starts with the more realistic assumption that people are affected by various cognitive complications. A growing body of research shows a number of situations in which individuals act in ways that run counter to the predictions of standard economics. Our rationality, self-control and self-interest are all bounded in ways that have important implications for the way governments design, implement and communicate policies.
Policymakers are often faced with the pressure of making timely, high quality solutions in an environment where time and information are lacking. These two fields of research which have transformed economics are no longer just good-to-know; but are must-knows for public officials.
In partnership with the world’s leading authorities on RCTs and Behavioural Insights, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy will offer a masterclass on Policy Evaluation Using Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) on 23 – 27 May 2016, and another on Applying Behavioural Insights to Public Policy (BI) on 27 June – 1 July 2016.