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Hertie School of Governance

"nudging" and Experimental Policy Evaluation

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Recognising that human behaviour systematically deviates from the notion of a rational, selfish homo oeconomicus opens the door for alternative approaches to policy making: ‘Nudging’.

Nudges - small and cost-effective interventions that build on behavioural science rather than mainstream economics - have quickly entered the toolbox of modern policy makers and public managers. Most visibly this is reflected in the emergence of numerous ‘Nudge Units’, institutions that design and test policies using Randomized Control Trials (RCTs).

This course introduces students to Nudging and its behavioral economic foundations. Covering a vast set of examples, we discuss how minor changes in the choice architecture can have a massive impact on policy-relevant decisions.

In addition, the course will familiarize participants with experimental policy evaluation methods (RCTs), which are closely related to the rise of nudging. Gaining detailed insights into a crucial pillar of evidence-based policy making, students will learn to distinguish informative from misguiding evidence.

Who should attend

Professionals from all sectors (public, private, and from NGOs)


  • Higher education degree
  • At least two years of relevant professional experience (average is ten years)
  • Good knowledge of English


Christian Traxler is Professor of Economics at the Hertie School of Governance. Using experimental policy evaluation approaches, he studies questions in public and behavioural economics, with a focus on tax evasion and enforcement. Before joining the Hertie School in 2013, he held a Chair for Pub...


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