RIETI Report January 2020

Using Nudge as Entry Points for EBPM!

Evidence-based-policymaking seems like an ideal method of making policy decisions, and in fact, many people assumed that this is how government decisions on all levels have been made for a long time. In fact, implementing EBPM is more difficult than it sounds for various reasons, including the lack of available data, ethical constraints in conducting policy-based experiments and the significant red tape and timelines involved in advancing important initiatives. In this RIETI Report, Consulting Fellow Yohei KOBAYASHI examines the current stumbling blocks to progress on this important front, and provides suggestions on how to progress despite the various obstacles, by employing Nudge Theory, which has gained prominence in recent years, with governments and international organizations such as the OECD suggesting its use in encouraging better decision-making.

This month's featured article

Using Nudge as Entry Points for EBPM!

KOBAYASHI YoheiConsulting Fellow, RIETI

Initiatives related to EBPM (evidence-based policy making) have recently spread among national and local government bodies in Japan. The main differences between EBPM and previous policy making have been (1) the use of evidence (scientific basis that demonstrates the causal effects of the policy) and (2) the generation of evidence. The use of evidence means the selection of measures that contribute to the attainment of a policy goal based on the existing causal evidence. The generation of evidence refers to examining the effects of a policy for which the causal effects have not been proven (Note 1).

If causal evidence already exists, we can simply use EBPM for policy making. However, the reality is that there are many cases in which such causal evidence has not been extracted through research because new policy challenges arose, as well as cases in which there are uncertainties regarding whether the same effects can be expected in Japan for policies that were implemented overseas, and for this reason there are not many cases in which it is possible to make political decisions based on the existing evidence.

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