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An Evidence Review Of Behavioural Economics

An Evidence Review Of Behavioural Economics


Summary of the Impact: Dr Aiden Carthy and his team produced a report on behavioural economics for the Irish Department of Justice in order to inform policy and educate relevant units within the department development in a range of areas including immigration, climate justice, and tackling domestic and gender-based violence.  The Irish Department of Justice have published this report and are employing it to inform policy development in a range of areas including immigration, climate justice, and tackling domestic and gender-based violence.  The report has the potential to impact Irish judicial processes and policy formation and ultimately to positively impact the lives of Irish citizens.

Research Description:  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.  This review was commissioned by the Irish Department Of Justice and considers how behavioural economics theories and concepts could be applied to five key areas within the Irish justice sector, which are (1) improving immigration and integration policies, (2) tackling domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, (3) improving policing, community safety and penal policy, (4) making court systems more efficient, accessible and fair, and (5) addressing broader challenges and opportunities presented by innovation and climate change.

Description of the Impact:  The Irish Department of Justice advertised a competitive tendering process for a study to be conducted to assess how behavioural economics could potentially be employed across the Irish justice sector.  PEEI were the department’s first choice to complete the study and were awarded this contract.  In keeping PEEI’s focus on conducting research that is beneficent and enables individuals and communities to thrive we focused our report on how behavioural economics could be of benefit in areas such as improving immigration policies and tackling domestic violence.  After submitting the report, it was circulated to staff across the Department of Justice and based on the response to the report, we were invited to present our findings to staff from across the justice sector.  The report has been published on the department’s website, the website of the National Drugs Library and was featured by the Irish Examiner.  Following its publication, an article was published through RTÉ Brainstorm, summarising our work and highlighting its importance.  Arising from the publication of this report, Dr Aiden Carthy was invited to present to the Behavioural Science Club regarding PEEI, our research and how behavioural science may be employed in studies pertaining to wellbeing and mental health.


What SDG goals does this contribute to?

  • 1, 16.2 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions: ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development’ and to ‘provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’.
  • 2 - Gender Equality: ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation. Our focus in this review was on improving immigration and integration policies and on tackling domestic, sexual and gender-based violence contribute directly to addressing both of these SDGs.
  • 2, 10.3 – Inequality: ‘Reduce inequality within and among countries.’ Our focus on improving immigration and integration policies contributes to this goal, as does our focus on addressing the challenges posed by climate change.


Evidence/Sources to Corroborate Research Impact:



“There has been a lot of interest in the report, and it probably has had and is having an impact in how some units think about carrying out their work at a micro level.” - Department of Justice Spokesperson

“An interesting overview of some projects in an Irish setting -  @brianbarryirl , Dr. Lucía Morales & Dr Aiden Carthy of @LAWTUDublin” - The Council of The Bar of Ireland


Research References: 

Barry, B., Morales, L. and Carthy, A. (2022) Can behavioural science improve the Irish justice system? RTE Brainstorm, Available online at


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An Evidence Review Of Behavioural Economics Case Study