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IDSS Distinguished Seminar Series

Thinking Outside Disciplinary Boundaries: Applying Behavioral Insights to the Design of Public Policy

March 2, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Brigitte Madrian (Brigham Young University)


Abstract: An understanding of psychology and other social science disciplines can dramatically increase the effectiveness of the economic tools traditionally deployed in carrying out the functions of government, which include remedying market failures, redistributing income, and collecting tax revenue. It can also lead to the development of different policy tools that better motivate desired behavior change or that are more cost-effective than traditional policy tools. This talk will (1) outline a framework for thinking about the economics and psychology of behavior change in the context of market failures, (2) describe the research on the effects of a variety of interventions rooted in an understanding of psychology that have policy-relevant applications, and (3) discuss how an understanding of psychology can also inform the use and design of traditional economic policy tools for behavior change, such as financial incentives.
About the Speaker: Brigitte C. Madrian is the Dean and Marriott Distinguished Professor in the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Business where she has a joint appointment in the Department of Finance and the George W. Romney Institute of Public Service and Ethics. Before coming to BYU, she was on the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School (2006-2018), the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School (2003-2006), the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (1995-2003) and the Harvard University Economics Department (1993-1995). She is also a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and served as co-director of the NBER Household Finance working group from 2010-2018.
Dr. Madrian’s current research focuses on behavioral economics and household finance, with a particular focus on household saving and investment behavior.  Her work in this area has impacted the design of employer-sponsored savings plans in the U.S. and has influenced pension reform legislation both in the U.S. and abroad. She also uses the lens of behavioral economics to understand health behaviors and improve health outcomes.
Dr. Madrian received her Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied economics as an undergraduate at Brigham Young University.  She is a recipient of the Skandia Research Prize for outstanding research on “Long-Term Savings” with relevance for banking, insurance, and financial services (2019), theRetirement Income Industry Association Achievement in Applied Retirement Research Award (2015) and a three-time recipient of the TIAA Paul A. Samuelson Award for Scholarly Research on Lifelong Financial Security (2002, 2011 and 2017).

Zoom meeting ID: 921 8193 0367
Join Zoom meeting: https://mit.zoom.us/brigittemadrian 

Please contact ldorson@mit.edu to register for this meeting.

YouTube livestream: https://youtu.be/be/Fnvga6TBmCA


MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307