Behavioural economics of policy design: the why and how of Nudge

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course
Economics, Data Analysis and Decision Making
Skills for Future Leaders


What if you could help people make good life decisions through a little ‘nudge’? As policymakers, encouraging people to make the right choices about their health, wealth and overall well-being can be challenging. In this course, you will learn about the cognitive biases we all bring to decisions and how you can use ‘nudge’ theory in policy design to make better choices.

This course will explain why the theory behind ‘Nudging’ - behavioural economics - provides a new way to look at public policy questions. It will also explain how the approach is and has been used in the public service and what opportunities there are for you to use them in your policy-making and evaluation.

We also examine the behavioural economics approach to policy evaluation. Which methods work best in a policy environment? What are the differences between randomised controlled trials and natural experiments? How can you use existing administrative data to evaluate policy?

Course date: 
9.30am–4.30pm 29 October 2020
#132, Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Before 14 October 2020: $1,195

After 15 October 2020: $1,495

Group discounts available.

Course overview

  • Cognitive biases and behavioural economics: What has changed for public policy design. In this session you will experience some cognitive biases in your own decisions and part take in experiments, introducing you not only to the prevalence of biases in day to day life but also to understand the value of evidence based on experiments.
  • Your challenge: Is behavioural economics the right tool? How to design and evaluate an intervention. In this section we will dive deeper into the UK BIT teams approach into applying behavioural economics. We will cover the EAST approach and apply it your challenges.
  • Methods of behavioural economics: the experimental approach. Applying behavioural economics as an evaluation methods is not only helpful to evaluate newly designed policies but can also provide insights into understanding the role behavioural biases play by analysing existing data or using computer based experiments. We will cover these different approaches, discuss strength and weaknesses and consider applicability to your challenges.
  • Implications for public policy: the rise of experimental government and the risks and limitations of behavioural economics. This session will try to look into the future and discuss political and ethical risks. The discussion relies on experiences from the US and the UK as well as Australia.

Course structure:

This course utilises a series of handouts and video presentations alongside lecture and facilitation to embed learnings.

Learning outcomes:

  • Understanding of how Behavioural Economics can help in policy development and policy evaluation - where is it different (new), what can it achieve.
  • Introduction to the EAST approach - development of basic knowledge to develop a Behavioural Economic intervention for the workplace.
  • Basic understanding of the limitations of the approach.

Anticipated behavioural and business impacts include:

  • Participants will get an introduction to identify potential applications of Behavioural Economics in the their work context, they will be able to have a first discussion about possible behavioural economics informed policy solutions and consider how to evaluate outcomes. Participants will also learn about their own biases and how they affect their decision making.

Who should attend?

  • APS, Not-for-profit and Private sector
  • No prerequisites required. General experience with public policy is useful, as would be a formal education in economics, law or psychology, but experience in the sector and a policy issue that participants want to tackle are all that is necessary.

Course presenter(s)

Professor Uwe Dulleck

Uwe Dulleck is a Professor in Applied Economics at QUT Business School, Economics and Finance and an Honorary Professor at the Australian National University. Prior to joining QUT, Uwe was a Professor of Economics at the University of Linz, Austria and an Assistant Professor at the University of Vienna. Uwe’s research and education expertise spans behavioral economics; economic experiments using biofeedback data; expert services and credence goods; and information economics. His work in these fields is widely published and includes the American Economic Review; Journal of Economic Literature; Economic Journal; Journal of Public Economics; International Journal of Industrial Organization; and the Scandinavian Journal of Economics. His research has been discussed in the Economic Focus of The Economist, Sydney Morning Herald and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (the Sunday edition of Germany’s leading quality newspaper), among others. Uwe is the recipient of several Australian Research Council Grants is a co-investigator on Austrian Research Grants. In 2015 Uwe was the Chairman of the Program Committee for Australia’s Conference of Economists, the leading and largest conference for research and applied economists in Australia. He is an active public commentator on behavioural economics and its applications to public policy, business decision making and regulation. He has collaborated with ASIC, the Australian Taxation Office, IP Australia, the Australian government, Department of Education and Training as well as with the BETA team in office of Prime Minister and Cabinet as well as for-profit and not-for-profit organisations on behavioural economics research projects.

Updated:  1 June 2020/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team