Research Outline

Behavioral Public Policy Initiatives in Metropolitans


Determine which behavioral public policy interventions and initiatives — segmented by industry (i.e. health, crime, energy, transportation, etc.) could be applied in large metropolitan cities (Seoul, Singapore, Dubai, Tokyo, Stockholm, Helsinki, Seattle, Shanghai, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, New York, Barcelona, Hong Kong) for the greatest effect. This information will be used to decide what could be done to effectively implement public policy proposals in New York City.

Early Findings

Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) in New York City

  • NORCs in New York City are funded by the Department for the Aging. Communities that house a large percentage of older adults are entitled to support-services programs, including health and wellness activities, case-management assistance, educational activities, and more.

Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) in New York City

  • The CCT in program in New York City was run experimentally between 2007-2010 by the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity, and was privately funded by Opportunity NYC-Family Rewards. This program essentially encouraged low-income families in NYC to increase their human capital by offering financial incentives if the families prioritized their childrens' education, preventative healthcare, and employment. While the initiative did create some positive effects, Family Rewards felt as though many outcomes remained unchanged.
  • A new Family Rewards model was also conducted in Memphis, Tennessee and the Bronx, New York to see if a different CCT structure could produce greater results.

NYC High School Placement System

  • The city of New York uses an application process to admit students to schools based on personal preference and academic standings. Students can apply to Specialized High Schools by taking a test, or they can apply to up to 12 other public/charter schools using a general application. Schools use a variety of metrics, including seat availability, priority selection of school preferences, school admission requirements, and more.

Yang's Borough Bucks

  • Mayoral candidate of NYC Andrew Yang offered $1,000 to one thousand residents in the Bronx, NY in the form of what he calls "Borough Bucks," which is a type of currency residents can use for services or events in the local community. Yang's idea behind the Borough Bucks was to get residents to invest in their community, which could unlock resources and increase the local economy.

Seoul — Seoul50Plus (50+) Initiative

  • The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) launched Seoul50Plus in 2016 in an effort to improve the quality of life of 50+ year olds in the area by means of offering elderly welfare and education programs. Through Seoul 50+, the city hoped to encourage older citizens to be active and social citizens. The program constructed new job models and campuses for 50+ year olds to encourage working and socializing.

Shanghai — Empowered Management Program

  • The Empowered Management Program in Shanghai is managed through the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission. This program allows low-performing schools to partner with high-performing schools so that teachers and administrators from the high-performing schools may provide support and coaching in the low-performing schools, while the teachers and administrators at low-performing schools can visit the high-performing schools for observation and insights. Partnerships between schools last for two years, on average, and provides additional resources and support to low-performing schools that opt in. The program also provides assigned mentors to teachers who need assistance to improve their performance.

Summary of Early Findings

Within our first hour of research, we were able to touch base on each of the four public policy initiatives mentioned in the chat from New York City — NORCs, CCTs, high school placement, and Yang's Borough Bucks. For each initiative we provided a brief overview of what the program involved, when it took place (or is taking place), and what the goals/outcomes were/are. We then located one example of a public policy initiative in Seoul and Shanghai each, which gave us an idea of the availability and context of public policy initiatives in other major metropolitan cities in the world. Based on these early findings, we are confident that through the proposals suggested below, we can offer a more comprehensive look at public policy initiatives that other metro areas are using that could be of use in New York City.