Behavioral Economics

Accelerating Financial Capability Among Youth

  • By
  • Payal Pathak,
  • Jamie Holmes,
  • Jamie M. Zimmerman,
  • New America Foundation
June 25, 2011

This paper argues that common definitions of financial capability understate the role of psychological barriers to establishing sound financial behaviors, namely savings habits. Drawing on insights from psychology and behavioral economics, we explore these missing psychological variables in the standard financial capability equation and suggest mechanisms, or nudges, to overcome those barriers to accelerate financial capability among low-income youth.

Meeting Employee Needs Now while Paving the Way for the Future of Employer-Based Asset Building Programs

June 16, 2011
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Our friends at CFED hosted an excellent webinar on Employer Engagement yesterday.  The webinar discussed the potential of moving to a paperless payday.  CFED Innovator-in-Residence, Eugénie FitzGerald, and Manager of the San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment, Leigh Phillips, built a case justifying the CurrenC SF program and talked about some of the challenges faced in the initial design phase of the program.  CurrenC SF is a city-wide effort to work with employers to have all employees in San Francisco paid by direct deposit.  Those who do not have a bank accoun

Sendhil Mullainathan Appointed as the CFPB’s Assistant Director for Research

May 11, 2011

Treasury just announced that Sendhil Mullainathan is the new Assistant Director for Research at the CFPB.  He will lead the work in its Office of Research.  This is big news for anyone interested in behaviorally informed policymaking.  Mullainathan is a well-respected Harvard economist in behavioral economics and is known for conducting research and applying the findings to actual international development programs and d

Bringing the Community Back into Community Development Research & Policy

May 4, 2011
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Last week, I attended the Federal Reserve Community Affairs Research Conference on “The Changing Landscape of Community Development” where researchers from the Fed and Universities around the country shared their most recent findings on the challenges facing low-income communities and community development policy-makers.  The conference covered a wide range of topics from foreclosures to farmers markets with eight discussion panels and keynote speeches by Columbia University professor and aut

The Joy of Not Cooking

  • By
  • Megan McArdle,
  • New America Foundation
April 12, 2011 |

I call my Shun chef’s knife beautiful, but objectively, nothing about its form is particularly lovely. The blade has a strange, asymmetrical curve, a hint of the crooked leer that curls the lips of villains in old detective movies. It cuts brilliantly, of course, with formidable balance and heft. But my potato masher does a fine job of smashing tubers, yet I never tell people it’s pretty. So why lavish such praise on a knife? One reviewer even called it “sexy,” a flinch-worthy description if you dwell on it for even a nanosecond.

Laughing All the Way to the Bank

  • By
  • Charles Kenny,
  • New America Foundation
April 12, 2011 |

By now, everyone knows the paradox of money and happiness, subject of a thousand articles written by penniless journalists. Rich people aren't much happier than the rest of us. But in fact there is a relationship between the two -- it is just the reverse of what most people think. Money may not be able to buy happiness, but happiness can apparently buy money -- happy people become richer than unhappy people over time.

Can Technology Save Foreign Aid?

March 3, 2011
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The notoriously inefficient development-assistance complex is under siege. Two trillion dollars have flowed from north to south in the last half century, with decidedly mixed results. Current political and budgetary trends threaten the continuation of such flows. At the same time, however, technology offers a means of escape from present bureaucratic bottlenecks, and a means to revolutionize how aid is delivered.

Take mobile technology, point-of-sale devices, and biometric IDs.

A Third Way for Official Development Assistance

  • By
  • Jamie M. Zimmerman,
  • Jamie Holmes,
  • New America Foundation
  • and Henry Jackelen, Suba Sivakumaran, and Sahba Sobhani, UNDP
March 1, 2011

Official Development Assistance (ODA) reform has been hotly debated in global development circles for decades. Aid has been plagued by inefficiencies, ineffectiveness, and corruption, inviting tough criticism and calls for all manners of restructuring.

Trend Alert: Automatic Savings is the New Black for 2011

February 23, 2011
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As fashion designers have New York Fashion Week to debut the hottest fashions for the year, financial services policy makers have America Saves Week (going on now from February 20-27) to showcase the hottest trends in personal savings. This year’s theme is “Make Savings Automatic.” Consumers are encouraged to set up auto-payments into a savings product.

The Pillars of Economic Transformation

  • By James K. Galbraith, University of Texas at Austin
February 1, 2011

In his 2011 State of the Union, President Obama outlined a sweeping program for economic transformation, resting on innovation, education, infrastructure, deficit reduction, and governmental reform. The New America Foundation asks whether these are the right “pillars” of a national agenda.  

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