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Applying Behavioral Economics to Public Policy in Canada

Author

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  • Robert French
  • Philip Oreopoulos

Abstract

Behavioral economics incorporates ideas from Psychology, Sociology, and Neuroscience to better predict how individuals make long-term decisions. Often the ideas adopted include present or inattention bias, both potentially leading to sub-optimal outcomes. But these models also point to opportunities for effective, low-cost government policies that can have meaningful positive effects on people’s long-term well-being. The last decade has been marked by a growing interest from governments the world over in using behavioral economics to inform policy decisions. This is true of Canada as well. In this paper we discuss the increasingly important role behavioral economics plays in Canadian public policy. We first contextualize government policies that have incorporated insights from behavioral economics by outlining a collection of models of intertemporal choice. We then present examples of public policy initiatives that are based upon findings in the field, placing particular emphasis on Canadian initiatives. We also document future opportunities, challenges, and limitations.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert French & Philip Oreopoulos, 2016. "Applying Behavioral Economics to Public Policy in Canada," NBER Working Papers 22671, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22671
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:cdh:commen:509 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:cai:repdal:redp_285_0777 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Sylvain Chareyron & David Gray & Yannick L’Horty, 2018. "Raising Take-Up of Social Assistance Benefits through a Simple Mailing: Evidence from a French Field Experiment," Revue d'économie politique, Dalloz, vol. 128(5), pages 777-805.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J48 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Particular Labor Markets; Public Policy

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