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Happy holidays to our stateside cousins – Inside the Nudge Unit is available in the USA!


December 22, 2015 Elspeth Kirkman

We’ve known for some time that across countries labour productivity per hour is negatively correlated with hours worked. Just to check, we ran a seasonally festive correlation between labour productivity and average days of holiday taken by country, which also showed a modest negative correlation (about -0.12 in the data we had to hand…). It seems, for example, that French workers’ 36 holiday days a year are more than made up for by the higher productivity. Compare this, for example, to their Canadian cousins, who have fewer than 20 days a year and the contrast is stark: $61 versus $49 per hour (OECD). Even at the individual level, there is evidence – albeit correlational – that those who take more holidays are more likely to get promoted. Good stats to have in mind if you’re one of those long-houred North Americans, worried about your unattended desk over the next couple of weeks!

At least one good bit of news for you is that you no longer have to rely on smuggled European versions of Inside the Nudge Unit, since it has now been released in your bit of the world. But don’t worry, we think it still comes with extra ‘u’s in behavio(u)ral.

It is a timely release. A quick review of the year for behavioral insights in the US leaves no doubt that the movement is now well underway, rightly building on the US’ deep tradition of empirical social science: President Obama came out to bat for behavioral science and evaluation in an Executive Order; the White House’s Social and Behavioral Science Team released their first report on the impact their work has been having; the World Bank’s World Development Report had a behavioral focus; and, of course, BIT set up its own team in the United States.

With just five months of operation under our belts, the North American BIT is already working with six cities across the United States and has done work with the Canadian Government, not-for-profit service providers and many others. Based in New York City, the team is currently running trials in areas as diverse as police recruitment, code enforcement, public engagement, revenue collection and online service take-up. By the summer we will have completed over fifteen randomized control trials with our city partners and will have many more on the way, enabling us to add to the growing body of evidence about what works and help drive transformation at the municipal level.

David’s book is available through all good book stores, here’s just one link to get you started on buying the perfect holiday gift for the behavioral science lover in your life: Inside the Nudge Unit: How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference.

Finally, looking to the new year, BIT North America is now recruiting for staff starting later in 2016.

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