Sunday, July 5, 2015

New York Times: Make compliance with government mandates "fun"

There's an interesting piece by Richard Thaler in the New York Times this morning about the ways governments encourage civil compliance in behaviors like paying taxes and recycling. The most common, it says, are exhortation ("please recycle! It's good for the city!") and punishment ("Recycle or we'll fine you").

New York Times: Make compliance with government mandates "fun"

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There's an interesting piece by Richard Thaler in the New York Times this morning about the ways governments encourage civil compliance in behaviors like paying taxes and recycling. The most common, it says, are exhortation ("please recycle! It's good for the city!") and punishment ("Recycle or we'll fine you").

Thaler recommends another type of approach:

As every successful parent learns, one way to encourage good behavior, from room-cleaning to tooth-brushing, is to make it fun. Not surprisingly, the same principle applies to adults. Adults like to have fun, too.

How do you make compliance with a government mandate "fun"? Here's one example of how the idea could be used to discourage speeding:

A camera would measure the speed of passing cars. Speeders would be issued fines but some of the fine revenues would be distributed via lottery to drivers who were observed obeying the speed limit. A short test of the idea offered promising results.

Philly already embraces this principle in its Recyclebank program but we'd love to hear any ideas you have for other places it could be applied.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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