Applying Behavioral Science in Development Policy

The World Bank’s Mind, Behavior, and Development Unit

Photo courtesy of the World Bank eMBeD unit


Renos Vakis
Lead Economist, World Bank Poverty and Equity Global Practice


Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Noon to 1:00 p.m. PDT


RAND Corporation
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA


Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of interest from governments around the world in applying behavioral insights to design better policies and services. People think fast and often automatically, respond strongly to social incentives, and use mental models or specific worldviews to interpret information and perceptions. The World Bank has been experimenting on how to bring these ideas into development policy design in a systematic way. This presentation will discuss the lessons to-date, some of the emerging evidence of the potential of behavioral science in public policy and the opportunities ahead to institutionalize and scale up this work going forward around the world.


Renos Vakis is a Lead Economist with the Poverty and Equity Global Practice where he co-leads the Mind, Behavior, and Development Unit (eMBeD). The unit integrates behavioral science in the design of anti-poverty policies in a wide range of issues such as financial inclusion, early childhood development, social protection, health and education. As a member of the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team in the Development Data Group of the World Bank, he also conducts experiments to improve household survey measures of behavioral dimensions of well-being. Vakis holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

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