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  • 20th Jun 2022

How can governments increase program uptake?

Behavioral insights can address barriers that traditional approaches cannot - blog 3 of 3

A government designs a great service or program to support its residents. Although many people qualify, the program receives just a few applications. How can we increase uptake?

While traditional marketing can sometimes raise awareness of programs and services, encouraging people to make use of them may involve a series of actions that advertising alone can’t address. Applying a behavioral insights lens can help identify and address these barriers.

From April 2019 to October 2021, BIT partnered with nine US cites through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities Economic Mobility Initiative. In this innovative cohort, cities were convened to advance the shared goal of accelerating economic mobility.

With Results for America, we helped these cities use behavioral insights to support program design, evaluate interventions, improve recruitment and retention efforts, and more—from increasing preschool attendance in Dayton, Ohio to expanding affordable housing units available in Newark, NJ. The work demonstrated just how much behavioral science has to say about making programs successful.

To share our lessons learned on program uptake more broadly, we created EAST for program uptake. In this short paper, we use BIT’s EAST framework to organize behavioral strategies to get more people to participate in programs. To help increase uptake, programs should be

  • EASY to apply for
  • ATTRACTIVE to residents
  • Leverage SOCIAL connections
  • TIMELY for beneficiaries

Download the full paper here to learn more about how a behavioral insights lens can support uptake, including real examples from BIT’s work with the economic mobility cohort cities.

Download East for uptake