Nudging at scale: Experimental evidence from FAFSA completion campaigns

Kelli A. Bird, Benjamin L. Castleman, Jeffrey T. Denning, Joshua Goodman, Cait Lamberton, Kelly Ochs Rosinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Do successful local nudge interventions maintain efficacy when scaled state or nationwide? We investigate, through two randomized controlled trials, the impact of a national and state-level campaign encouraging students to apply for financial aid for college. The campaigns collectively reached over 800,000 students, with multiple treatment arms patterned after prior local interventions in order to explore potential mechanisms. We find no impacts on aid receipt or college enrollment overall or for any subgroups. We find no evidence that different approaches to message framing, delivery, or timing, or access to one-on-one advising affected campaign efficacy. We discuss why nudge strategies that work locally may be hard to scale effectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)105-128
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Volume183
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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