Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


5.1 PSYCHOLOGY, Law, Social sciences


Behavioural economics combines elements of economics and psychology to better understand how and why people behave the way they do in the real world. While behavioural economics originally sought to better understand economic decision-making, it has since grown in scope and application, and it is increasingly used by governments, government departments and other organisations to shape and implement public policies in a range of policy areas. This Review considers the application of behavioural economics theories and concepts (commonly referred to as behavioural insights) to the justice sector in a range of areas of justice policy in different jurisdictions. Areas of justice policy include improving immigration and integration policies, tackling domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, improving policing, community safety and penal policy, making court systems more efficient, accessible and fair, and addressing broader challenges and opportunities presented by innovation and climate change. This Review is broken into two main parts. Part 1 is about behavioural economics generally. It explains the background to the field and its evolution to the present day and contextualises behavioural economics within the broader fields of economics and psychology. The main concepts and theories of behavioural economics are explained. Part 1 also addresses how behavioural economics research is conducted, explains some of the critical and ethical debates that have emerged within the field, and evaluates how and why behavioural economics emerged as a popular tool for policy design. Part 2 is about the application of behavioural economics to the justice sector. It is broken down into a series of policy areas within the justice sector. These areas were pre-identified by the authors with the Department of Justice as being particularly relevant to its work to inform and assist with policy formation. The specific areas are: - immigration and integration, - domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, - policing, community safety and penal policy, - court systems and access to justice, and - innovation and climate action. Part 2 presents case studies of policy interventions informed by behavioural economics theories and concepts from other jurisdictions in each of these areas. Often these —— 4 interventions are pre-tested for their effectiveness before their wider roll-out in the general population. Alongside specific policy interventions, Part 2 also considers literature that assesses how behavioural economics theories and concepts can help to better understand and solve policy problems that arise in the justice sector. The Review concludes with observations and analysis of the implications of behavioural economics research for the justice sector, and how best to harness it to improve justice policies in the future.



Irish Department Of Justice