Behavioral economics is an emerging field of research in economics and psychology with important real-life and policy implications. The rise of behavioral economics and the rapidly growing need for behavioral economists stems from the realization that the standard economic assumption that people behave in fundamentally rational ways is incorrect.
This realization, combined with the major societal challenges we face in light of socioeconomic challenges, including financial markets reforms, rising inequality, refugee crises, and more, underscores the need to train professionals in a manner that will enable government agencies, policymakers, private corporations, and NGOs to function better. The new Behavioral Economics graduate program at IDC does just that. It combines insights from social sciences to generate an additional dimension to the understanding of human behavior. It provides practical tools for implementing public policies and behavioral interventions, aimed at aiding individuals and societies reform existing programs in order to make them more efficient and more practical.
Historically, the groundbreaking work of Nobel Prize laureates – economist Richard Thaler (2017) and psychologist and decision-making researcher Daniel Kahneman (2002) – as well as the work of psychologist and decision-making researcher Amos Tversky z”l, laid the foundations for behavioral economics as an independent field of study. IDC’s program builds on the strong connection between economics and psychology, to give professionals a solid grasp of economics and robust knowledge of the psychological forces that shape human behavior, both of which are crucial in order to understand the decisions we make and the actions we take, and to effect change.
The master’s program is composed of a comprehensive set of core courses in economics, decision-making, and public policy, along with foundational and more advanced courses in behavioral research methods and statistics. Classes, taught entirely in English, are designed to provide a strong background in theory, and to give students practical tools and hands-on experience with state-of-the-art policies and interventions (e.g., nudges, financial incentives) aimed at improving decision-making processes. Students will, for example, take part in Nudgeathons and work with Israeli government agencies on real-life applications of behavioral economics in the public sector.
The Behavioral Economics MA program at IDC responds to the strong need to formulate and enact social policies and interventions to help individuals manage their lives better. It is also a strong start to the development of a state-of-the-art behavioral economics hub in Israel.