Guatemala, Indonesia, Bangladesh



Type of Investment


Project Stage


Length of Investment

2016 to present

Investment Overview

The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) have pioneered the use of behavioural science in public and social policy. GIF investment enabled BIT to work with partners in three countries to design, test and scale behavioural interventions, and build the capacity for government partners in how to apply behavioural science in their work.


The Development Challenge

Many development challenges have a behavioural element, such as farmers' choice of crops and application of fertilisers, or patients' compliance with treatment regimens for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Traditionally, governments have relied on information, financial incentives and legislation to steer citizens' behaviours toward productive and prosocial ends, but these approaches neglect the importance of key design and implementation aspects which have a huge impact on citizens' choices and the performance of services and programmes.


The Innovation

BIT has expanded from a small unit originally formed inside the UK government to become an independent entity working across 30+ countries. It works with governments, local authorities, businesses, and charities to generate and apply behavioural insights that inform policy, improve public services, and deliver positive results for people and communities. There is a large body of evidence showing that people suffer from numerous cognitive biases, such as default bias, that behavioural insights can help overcome. To that effect, BIT employs an approach called TESTS (Target, Explore, Solution, Trial, Scale) to run projects with partners. Their evaluations show that small and often low-cost changes to public service delivery that fit with such human decision-making tendencies can significantly impact on people’s behaviours and the performance of services and programmes.


Our Investment

GIF awarded a £3 million scale grant to BIT in 2016 to work with partners in Guatemala, Bangladesh, and Indonesia to institutionalise a behavioural insights approach to drive efficiency across their services and programmes. These partnerships are focused on collaboratively designing and testing behavioural interventions through a series of randomised controlled trials in tax, education, and other sectors. This contributes to the evidence base on behaviourally informed policies and informs scaling of the most effective nudges. Most importantly, it equips government partners to use behavioural design and evaluation methods to inform programme design going forward.


Progress to date

Under this grant BIT worked with twelve partners across six countries, initiating 39 projects and completing 23 randomised evaluations of behavioural interventions. The trials included measures to increase early filing of tax returns which reached more than 11 million taxpayers in Indonesia, the use of ‘rules of thumb’ postures to improve the quality of school management practices across more than 4,000 high schools in Guatemala, and examining the use of posters encourage bystander interventions in cases of sexual harassment on public buses.

BIT achieved notable gains in capacity, particularly among the six partners with which they worked most closely: Bangladesh Access to Information (a2i), BRAC, Guatemala Tax Authority, Guatemala Ministry of Education, Indonesia Tax Authority and Indonesia Social Security Agency. Many of these partners have institutionalised their own behavioural science teams and have designed and raised funds for their own behavioural science programmes. GIF investment finished in 201 and is summarised in this report.


BIT in numbers

11.2 million

Indonesian taxpayers reached in BIT’s trials to encourage early filings, one of the largest public policy experiments globally

24 randomised trials

Undertaken with 12 partners in 3 different countries


BIT Completion Report