Nudge enthusiasm for policies shaped by randomized controlled trials towards using naturally-set conditions for policy tests
One fondly-remembered dialogue from the classic British political satire Yes, Prime Minister is by the seasoned civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby, when he self-assuredly asserts: “Government policy has nothing to do with common sense." Of course, this relates to a bygone era where anecdotes, ideology, heuristics and intuition dictated government policy. The current age is one of rigorous research findings, data, analytics and evaluation of new innovations shaping the public discourse. We call this evidence-based policy- making. It involves compiling robust evidence on what intervention works, monitoring programme delivery and using impact-evaluation to measure its effectiveness, with well-validated learnings serving as inputs to improve schemes, scaling up what’s found to perform well, and diverting funds away from ineffective programmes, among others.