Pro Tem De León Announces CA “Digital Nudge” Initiative

Senate and Academia to Use Behavioral Economics to Increase Government Efficiency

Thursday, October 29, 2015

SACRAMENTO – In an effort to better serve Californians and improve government operations, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León today announced the California Digital Nudge Initiative, a new collaboration with UCLA Professor Shlomo Benartzi, a leading academic in behavioral economics to improve government efficiency, shape policy, and solve societal problems through digital technology. Digital nudging is an emerging field that combines behavioral insights and new technologies to help individuals make better decisions. In recent years, the public and private sectors have used nudges to save energy, make college more accessible, and increase the savings rates of millions of Americans.

Professor Benartzi said, “I believe digital nudging has the potential to make a huge difference on a number of critical societal issues, ranging from retirement savings to voter turnout and water conservation. California is perfectly positioned to lead the way, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to collaborate with Pro tem De León and the California Senate."

“California is a leader in digital technology and innovation, and we are uniquely positioned to develop a Digital Nudge Initiative for other states to follow,” said Senator De León. “Professor Benartzi’s expertise in behavioral economics can be applied to a variety of issue areas, and his creative ideas, coupled with the invention of new technology, will transform how we think about and tackle problems impacting our communities.”

Professor Benartzi, together with Professor Richard Thaler, pioneered Save More Tomorrow (SMT), a retirement program design concept that has doubled the savings rates of over four million workers in the United States. Professor Benartzi has also been advising the United Kingdom’s Behavioural Insights Team (so-called “Nudge Unit”) on policy issues. He also is author of the newly released book, The Smarter Screen: Surprising Ways to Influence and Improve Online Behavior.

Professor Benartzi will be the guest speaker 10:30 to 11 a.m., Thursday, in the State Capitol, Room 3191, discussing with Senate staff how changes to the choices and information available on digital displays can lead to solutions for problems impacting our communities and transform how we think about and develop new policy initiatives.

Senator De León met Professor Benartzi, co-chair of the Behavioral Decision-Making Group at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, in 2012 while working on SB 1234, the California Secure Choice Retirement Saving Trust Act.

Professor Benartzi’s lecture Thursday at the Capitol is the first event in a guest speaker series Pro Tem De León is hosting during the legislative interim.

WHO: Professor Shlomo Benartzi, Co-Chair of the Behavioral Decision-Making Group, UCLA Anderson School of Management

WHAT: Guest Lecture on Behavioral Economics and “Digital Nudging”

WHEN: 10:30-11 a.m., Thursday, October 29th

WHERE: State Capitol, Room 3191

See Professor Benartzi’s TED Talk, Saving for tomorrow, tomorrow, here: