Social policy is a vague concept. It can mean different things in different contexts and can be exclusive focusing only on transfers and payments that fall within the welfare system. Or, it can be much more inclusive and include the following: programs and payments whose main aim is to reduce disadvantage and narrow divergence in opportunity.
Such a definition clearly includes the main transfers and payments made by government like unemployment insurance, disability support and child care payments. However, it would also include a number of education, health, employment, housing and other policy initiatives, especially those that focus on particular population sub-groups with a history of ongoing disadvantage.
Within this definition, what might a behaviourally informed social policy look like? In general a behaviourally informed social policy is one that explicitly takes into account the available research and evidence on choices, behaviour and predictable biases.
Before discussing this evidence and research, Dr Nicholas Biddle considers some of the key issues and questions that are of relevance for current social policy debates in Australia. Identifying these questions and issues is important for identifying a behaviourally informed response.