Mayor Kathy Taylor announced that the city’s printers will now be set to two-sided printing by default, saving an estimated (and astounding!) $41,400 per year. This is a great example of what Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein call “nudges.”
One well-known nudge is default enrollment into 401(k) programs, which can boost enrollment rates up to 90 percent. Usually (including at CAP, sadly), you have to opt-in to an employer retirement program, causing even people who know better to delay and forget to do so. Default enrollment flips the choice – you are automatically enrolled and you are left with the freedom to choose to opt out.
Behavioral economists and their ilk call these nudges “choice architecture,” or the ways in which we can encourage people to make better (or different) choices by changing the context in which they make the decision. The idea is that we can get better choices without actually constraining anyone’s freedom to choose for themselves.
The Tulsa Initiative, and CAP more generally, has been thinking a lot about how to leverage behavioral research to obtain better outcomes for the people we serve. How can we change the context in which people make decisions so that its just a little bit easier to save some money, pay the bills on time, get kids enrolled in Sooner Care, etc?