Handbook of Behavioural Change and Public Policy
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Handbook of Behavioural Change and Public Policy

Edited by Holger Straßheim and Silke Beck

Behavioural change has become a core issue of public policy. Behavioural instruments such as ‘nudging’ apply insights from behavioural economics and behavioural sciences, psychology and neurosciences across a broad range of policy areas. Behavioural insights teams and networks facilitate the global spread of behavioural public policies. Despite an ever-growing amount of literature, research has remained fragmented. This comprehensive Handbook unites interdisciplinary scholarship, with contributions critically assessing the state and direction of behavioural public policies, their normative implications and political consequences.
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Chapter 17: Behavioural economics and development policy

Christian Berndt


Using market-based pro-poor development policy in the Global South as an example, this chapter engages with the rise of behaviourism and experimentalism as a challenge to the neoclassical orthodoxy and the more recent transformation into an influential policy script. After charting the rise of behavioural economics and discussing key conceptual building stones of the emerging behavioural mainstream in development economics, the chapter turns to the marketization of anti-poverty policy in the Global South. Based on an analysis of policy documents, project reports and academic interventions, it is argued that the behavioural approach to poverty shifts the focus from the market to the market subject and engages in often thinly veiled attempts of behavioural engineering. This is achieved with the combined work of behavioural economic knowledge and sociotechnical market devices.

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