Modern social security systems face many challenges related to coverage, adequacy and financing. Policy-makers confront social and economic dilemmas when adjusting policy parameters: for example, addressing coverage issues while maintaining adequacy and financing. What is difficult to reconcile in these situations is the quality of the social outcomes achieved for individuals, communities and societies against policy parametric options.

Driving behavioural change to improve program outcomes has therefore always been a priority for social protection policy and service delivery agencies. Traditionally the approach was centered around detecting noncompliant behaviours based on empirical evidence and reacting accordingly. Increasingly the focus has shifted to proactively influencing behaviour by leveraging default human nature, such as the tendency to take the path of least resistance.

In this context, “nudge” is taking public policy by storm. Nudges, as introduced by Thaler and Sunstein (2008), are defined as “…any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic consequences”. As changing circumstance data becomes increasingly accessible in real-time, predictive analytics tools enable forecasting of what might happen in the future at the individual level. This technology has the potential to introduce a new dimension for social investment, where program responses can be tailored for the customer-of-one.
The SAP Institute for Digital Government, in collaboration with the world-leading Australian National University, is conducting innovative research on the concept of “digital nudge” (

At the European Social Services Conference 2017 SAP’s Ryan van Leent will introduce our digital nudge research, and examine its practical application using the example of a BETA (Behavioural Economics Team of the Australian Government) trial being conducted in partnership with the Australian Federal Government Department of Human Services (DHS). The session will also address the ethical considerations of digital nudge and how agencies can minimise risk exposure during implementation.

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If you have any questions on SAP for Social Protection you can contact also contact Hein Keijzer, mailto: Join us and over 400 delegates from across Europe in Valletta on 26-28 June 2017.