Using ‘nudges’ for better policy

Behavioural economics is gathering pace in the public sector. From increasing pension enrolment to providing employment, from loft insulation to organ donation, simple “nudges” are effective and cheap.

Pilot volunteers

A major UK charity thought that using economic rewards might increase local volunteering. Frontier helped the charity to evaluate a trial. Using behavioural science, we explored the volunteers’ conscious attention to rewards and their intrinsic motivation for volunteering. We found that rewards did not encourage volunteering and advised the charity not to roll out the scheme. Frontier worked with the charity to create other ideas to encourage volunteering.

We have advised many public sector organisations.  We have helped government departments on policy issues, as well as charities, health trusts, regulators and other agencies.  We understand what makes good policy.

We combine this with our behavioural economics practice to understand voters, taxpayers, consumers, volunteers, patients and students, and how to change their behaviour.  We think that through better diagnosis of how decisions are made, skilled targeting of behavioural levers, and through designing effective trials, we can help policy makers make the most of limited resources in a difficult  economic climate.


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