Behavioural economics and experimental policy analysis

This course introduces experimental tools for evaluating, and behavioural approaches in designing public policies, often related to the buzzword of “Nudging”. We will first study the methods for experimental policy evaluation, in particular, the Dos and Don'ts in designing RCTs and how to interpret experimental results. The course then covers selected pieces of evidence from behavioural economics that demonstrate how individual behavior deviates from the paradigm of a rational, selfish decision making. We discuss several field experiments that test “behaviourally informed” policies, e.g., on increasing voter turnout, reducing energy consumption or increasing charity contributions.

The second part of the course is based on independent field projects. Students will design RCTs that aim at evaluating small scale interventions in different behavioural domains. Selected RCTs will be implemented; outcome data will be collected, analysed and evaluated.

The course will familiarise students with selected insights from behavioural economics. More importantly, however, students will gain experience in applying methods of experimental policy analysis and learn key aspects in designing RCTs and evaluating their outcomes.