March 14, 2022, Paper: "Can simplifying the experience of applying for government benefits change attitudes and take-up? In two large field experiments with an Australian bank, we use design, data and digital infrastructure to shift administrative burdens away from citizens. First, an experiment among 195,414 low-income people shows simplification of a meanstested benefit substantially increases satisfaction with both the bank and government. Transactions and linkages to government records show take-up effects are more modest, suggesting redesigning how citizens experience policies can reshape attitudes toward government, independently of take-up effects. Second, in a randomized national roll-out to 7,720,009 people, we show this simplification scales successfully and cost-effectively. Broadly, we argue that besides asking how policy content affects attitudes—the “who gets what”—examining “when” and especially “how” citizens experience policies helps explain interactions with, and attitudes toward, government. These experiments also illustrate how private institutions can play a role in such policy feedback loops."
Non-HKS Harvard Faculty Website - Michael Hiscox