June 13th, 2019
We have made it halfway through the halfway-point of the year and are observing, learning and collating news from across our markets for our loyal readers. You will find some content about tackling pollution in Tanzania and a great paper about incentivising waste management in Nigeria. Reach the end to learn about our current job openings!

01 - Num6ers

Interesting stats or figures from the past week to put global issues in perspective


The number of active political parties in Sudan. However the protesters in Khartoum, who have captured global attention, rallied under the Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella organization of professional groups and independent trade unions dedicated to defending and improving workers’ rights.




The amount of paper bags produced daily by Green Earth Paper Products, a Tanzanian company set up in 2009. Tanzania banned the use of plastic bags on June 1 to tackle air and water pollution and must wrestle with the economic consequences of this ban, as importing, exporting, storing and carrying plastic bags is now illegal. Some, like Green Earth Paper Products, whose products were initially deemed too expensive for common use, are now at an advantage because of the ban.



The amount India spent on its recent general election, which took place April-May. Not only was the election the biggest in the world, it was also the most expensive. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won an overwhelming majority of seats in lower parliament and Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected.

02 - Fresh from the Lab

New insights, trends, and findings for behavioral science in the Global South

The effect of new information on political preferences

For this study, we sought to understand how “sticky” or consistent citizen preferences are when they are given new, updated information. We often assume that increased information towards citizens will lead to improved monitoring and accountability for government. However, this loop is less useful if preferences are not consistent.

To test this, we elicited citizen preferences on local development budget spending, and then measured those preferences shifted when given information on actual spending levels to see how citizen preferences might be subject to common behavioral biases.

What we found:

Do anchors matter in policy preferences? Not that we can tell.

We find no significant differences between a group that had no information on previous spending and the group that was given last year’s budget information.  This implies that people are fairly consistent in their priorities, and anchors had little influence on their preferences.

We interpret these results as good news for accountability: citizens have fairly consistent and sticky preferences when it comes to policy priorities, regardless of previous campaign promises or the visibility of spending programs.

Read the full Off the Record study here

03 - Links we liked

Recently published journals, papers, blog posts or just interesting snippets we enjoyed

  • BE Guide 2019 is out - always a nice resource with good insights on how industry is thinking about applying behavioral insights.  A little framework heavy in the case studies (does the world need more acronym frameworks…?), but we particularly enjoyed the thinking on lessons academia can learn from industry by our friends at Irrational Labs.
  • Malaria is still a cause for concern in many parts of Africa and in India, with more than half of the cases worldwide being traced there. The article states that one reason for the prevalence of the disease is the declining share of families that use anti-mosquito sprays, suggesting there may be a behavioral element at play.
  • Recycling is not a new concept in Lagos, Nigeria but there is now a heightened awareness of environmental pollution, leading to more purposeful recycling. This article outlines the incentives social entrepreneurs offer for better waste management--in the hopes of creating behavioral change in people--and the challenges they face.

We are hiring!

We are growing fast and looking for more talented individuals to join our teams in Kenya, Nigeria, India, Tanzania and beyond. Do you know anyone interested in applying behavioral science and building a world of better-designed policies, products and services? Our current openings are listed here.

Have a lovely week-end!

Copyright © 2019 Busara Center for Behavioral Economics, All rights reserved.

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