By Emily Schmitt, Social Scientist Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
The Behavioral Interventions to Advance Self-Sufficiency (BIAS) project is the first major opportunity to use a behavioral economics lens — which combines insights from psychology and economics — to look at programs that serve poor and vulnerable people in the United States. The project aims to learn how tools from behavioral economics can improve the well-being of individuals and families served by ACF programs.
A recent report provides an overview of behavioral economics and illustrates how the BIAS project draws on the principles of behavioral economics to design solutions for ACF programs. In partnership with program administrators, the BIAS team used a method called “behavioral diagnosis and design” to delve into problems that program administrators have identified, diagnose potential bottlenecks that may inhibit program performance, and identify areas where a relatively easy and low-cost, behaviorally informed change might improve outcomes.
As the project moves forward, the BIAS team will continue to work with public officials to design and apply behavioral interventions in ACF program areas to generate new ways of tackling problems. They will test promising interventions using rigorous research designs, employing experimental methods to determine — with reliability— the impact of an intervention. Future publications will report the impacts of these interventions.