Alison Buttenheim and Kevin Volpp of the University of Pennsylvania.
Alison Buttenheim and Kevin Volpp. (Photo: Hoag Levins)

The University of Pennsylvania’s Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, and Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, have been named members of a new National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) committee that will assess future prospects for the broader use of behavioral economics in public policy.

Beginning this week, the two LDI Senior Fellows will join 11 other academics in reviewing the evidence of how behavioral economics principles have successfully or unsuccessfully been applied in various fields over the last decade. The goal is to identify insights that can help direct future research related to public health, chronic illness, economic well-being, and global climate change.

The new “Future Directions for Applying Behavioral Economics to Policy” committee will be co-chaired by Buttenheim and Robert Moffitt, PhD, of the John Hopkins University Department of Economics.

“Given ongoing policy interest in applying behavioral economics to pressing social problems, this consensus committee is launching at the perfect moment,” said Buttenheim. “I’m excited to be co-chairing the committee as a social scientist trained in public health – the interdisciplinary perspective on these important issues will be critical.”

Buttenheim is the Director of Engagement at Penn LDI, an Associate Professor of Nursing at Penn’s School of Nursing, Scientific Director of the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE), and the behavioral design lead for Indlela, an HIV-focused nudge unit based in South Africa.

“There have been a lot of demonstrations of how interventions based on concepts from behavioral economics can be effective,” said Volpp. “In some cases, these programs have been scaled by a variety of organizations. This is a good time to take stock of progress — where new scientific advances are needed and where a systematic look at what has been scaled and what hasn’t could lead to improvements in health or health care.”

Volpp is a Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine and at The Wharton School, and is the Director of the Penn Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE). CHIBE is one of the country’s leading centers for behavioral economics research.

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