World Bank tries to go the behavior way for development..

The change is happening gradually.

World Bank’s annual World Development Report 2015 (WDR) is based on behavioral insights..

Development policies based on new insights into how people actually think and make decisions will help governments and civil society achieve development goals more effectively. A richer and more accurate understanding of human behavior can make it easier to tackle such difficult development challenges as increasing productivity, breaking the cycle of poverty from one generation to the next, and acting on climate change, finds a new World Bank report.

World Development Report 2015: Mind, Society, and Behavior, examines early, exciting work that suggests ways of diagnosing and solving the psychological and social factors that influence development. The new approaches are complements to a host of other standard economic tools.

People do not always make deliberative, independent decisions based on careful self-interested calculations, the report finds. Rather, they tend to think quickly and to use mental shortcuts and shared mindsets. By factoring this in, governments and other actors can design programs that make it easier for individuals to cooperate in the pursuit of shared goals.

For instance, in an experiment in Colombia involving a modified cash transfer program, part of the funds for beneficiaries were automatically saved and then given as a lump sum at the time when researchers knew decisions about school enrollment for the next year were typically made. This adjustment, designed to encourage people to focus on schooling decisions, increased enrollments for the following year.

Hmm. Look at some select examples:

The report cites several illustrative examples of innovative approaches to development, including:

  • Changing social norms by posting stickers on buses in Kenya that encouraged passengers to complain to reckless drivers, which ultimately halved the number of insurance claims involving injury or death
  • Deploying commitment devices such as a lockable metal box with a passbook households used to write the name of a preventive health product, which increased savings and resulted in an increase of up to 75 percent in investment in preventive health products in Kenya
  • Creating social incentives by publicizing water consumption figures in Bogota, Colombia and naming individuals who were helping conserve water during a severe shortage, which led to citywide water savings.
  • Using social networks to amplify the effects of information programs in Malawi, where a small performance incentive to encourage farmers to communicate to peers the benefits of a new agricultural technology was a cost-effective way to  increase the take-up of the technology       
  • Using status awards and indicators, like the UN’s Gender Empowerment Measure or the World Bank’s own Doing Business results, to motivate policymakers and firms
  • Creating entertainment education, like ‘Scandal!’, a television soap opera in South Africa that carried messages on financial literacy, which led to lower rates of gambling and better financial decision making among viewers.

The report stresses that focusing more closely on correctly defining and diagnosing problems can lead to better designed interventions. Since even experts’ initial assumptions about the causes of behavior can be wrong, the implementation period should test several interventions, each based on different assumptions about choice and behavior. After adoption, the interventions’ effects should inform new rounds of definition, diagnosis, design, implementation, and testing. The process of refinement should continue as interventions are scaled up.

Should be a great read..WDRs have become boring off late with hardly attention on the report. there was a time when it was much talked about..not any more.. this one could be different..

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