Peer comparison interventions: cases from developing countries

SpeakerSaugato Datta, managing director,
Discussant: Divya Nair, associate director, IDinsight
Chair: Emmanuel Jimenez, Executive Director, 3ie
Date: 13 July 2017
Venue: Seminar Hall 1, Kamala Devi Complex, India International Centre, New Delhi – 110001
Time: 3:00pm-5:00pm


A fundamental finding in behavioral science is that people tend to emulate the behavior of their peers, taking cues about what is appropriate, expected, or possible from neighbors, colleagues or others around them. For example, people will litter more freely in a place that is already dirty - but the same people will avoid littering if their surroundings are clean. Yet, information about the behavior of our peers is often invisible, not salient, insufficiently known or incorrectly understood. In this talk, Saugato Datta will present results from three recently concluded field RCTs which leverage this insight to address challenges in very different domains: low uptake of long-acting contraception in Nepal, wastage of electricity in a commercial setting in South Africa and households' overuse of water in Costa Rica. These studies use different kinds of experimental designs, thus also offering an opportunity to reflect on the range of ways in which randomised evaluations can be carried out. Saugato will also reflect on opportunities to use such interventions to address policy challenges in India at scale

About the speaker

Saugato Datta is the managing director at ideas42, a behavioural science research and consulting firm. He oversees the organisation's work in low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia and South America. He works with partners in government, NGOs and firms focused on low-income populations to design, test and scale socially beneficial applications of behavioural economics. His current work spans public health, violence reduction, financial inclusion, resource conservation, agriculture, the design of transfer programs, and helping cities use behavioural science to improve urban governance and sustainability. Saugato holds a PhD in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.                 

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Photo©Valerie Caldas/USAID

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