Many challenges that urban administrations face – whether supplying adequate potable water and uninterrupted electricity to residents, ensuring that waste is collected, or responding in a timely and effective manner to citizens’ complaints and requests – are also problems of human behavior, whether on the citizen side or on the part of government officials. For example, how much water needs to be supplied depends in part on how judiciously it is used, and how proactively leaks and other issues are repaired. Behavioral science is increasingly being applied to tackle some of these challenges. In this talk, Saugato highlighted at some examples from around the world of using behavioral interventions to tackle challenges in urban governance and service delivery, including some ongoing work with eGov in India.
Saugato Datta is a Managing Director at ideas42, where he oversees work on the application of behavioral science in low- and middle-income countries in South and South-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa in partnership with government agencies, multilateral organizations, NGOs and firms focused on low-income populations. His current work spans bureaucratic behavior, education, labor markets, agriculture, and cash transfer/social protection programs. He has also worked on behavioral interventions in public health and around resource conservation. Before joining ideas42, Saugato spent three years writing about economics at The Economist in London, and as a researcher at the World Bank in Washington, DC. Saugato has a PhD in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and undergraduate and Master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the University of Delhi.