Using Insights from Behavioral Science to Increase Meeting Attendance
The Paycheck Plus Demonstration evaluated whether offering single New Yorkers an earnings supplement on top of their existing Earned Income Tax Credit would improve their economic well-being and encourage employment. Eligible recipients received up to $2,000 a year for three years if they worked, earned wages within an income gap, and filed taxes. But enrollment into the program took place a year before they could receive their first bonus payment, so program operators invited enrollees to a meeting to remind them of Paycheck Plus’ benefits. They were offered a $50 cash card as an incentive to attend.
CABS set out to increase the number of participants who attended the informational meeting about the Paycheck Plus benefit. Program operators anticipated that many participants would not attend the meeting, even though they were offered a monetary incentive. CABS designed two types of postcards: one reflecting a typical message the program operator would have produced in the absence of an intervention, and one that incorporated principles of behavioral science such as implementation prompts, loss aversion, and prominent deadlines (the “behavioral” version). Half of the participants were also sent text messages.
The highest-intensity outreach (behavioral postcard with behavioral text messages) improved response rates by 12 percentage points compared with the no-intervention postcards.