Policymaking Using Behavioural Expertise

Policymaking could improve if greater use were made of the knowledge contributed by behavioural economics and psychology. The behavioural sciences should therefore be embedded more deeply in the policymaking process, for example by establishing a basic capacity internally in each ministry, the WRR concludes in its report Policymaking Using Behavioural Expertise (Report no. 92, 2014).

Too many choices

The number of choices and temptations that people face has grown enormously in the last few decades. There are, however, limits to the choices and temptations that people can cope with. This can have harmful consequences, for example the decision to eat harmful food or make reckless impulse purchases. It is therefore important for government policy to be based on realistic assumptions about how people make choices and how much choice they can cope with.

Three main directions

The WRR suggests three possible approaches for embedding the findings from the behavioural sciences more effectively in policymaking: (1) intradepartmental, (2) interdepartmental and (3) adaptation of the policymaking and legislative process. The best chance of a successful outcome is if all three approached are adopted simultaneously.

The WRR published this report at the request of the council of secretaries-general of the ministries.