Nudges Don’t Work When the Benefits Are Ambiguous: Evidence from a High-Stakes Education Program Sep 01, 2020 By Benjamin CastlemanFrancis X. MurphyRichard W. PattersonWilliam L. Skimmyhorn Nudges Don’t Work When the Benefits Are Ambiguous: Evidence from a High-Stakes Education Program The Post-9/11 GI Bill allows service members to transfer generous education benefits to a dependent. We run a large scale experiment that encourages service members to consider the transfer option among a population that includes individuals for whom the transfer benefits are clear and individuals for whom the net-benefits are significantly more ambiguous. We find no impact of a one-time email about benefits transfer among service members for whom we predict considerable ambiguity in the action, but sizeable impacts among service members for whom education benefits transfer is far less ambiguous. Our work contributes to the nascent literature investigating conditions when low-touch nudges at scale may be effective. Link to Paper Areas of focus Education UVA partners EdPolicyWorks: Center for Education Policy and Workforce Competitiveness Benjamin Castleman Ben Castleman is an associate professor of public policy and education at the Batten School and the founder and director of the Nudge4 Solutions Lab at UVA. His research focuses on policies to improve college access and success for low-income students. Several of his papers examine innovative strategies to deliver high-quality information about the college-going process to low-income students and their families, and to ease the process of students and families getting professional support when they need assistance Read full bio Francis X. Murphy Richard W. Patterson William L. Skimmyhorn Related Content Benjamin Castleman Unfinished Business? Academic and Labor Market Profile of Adults With Substantial College Credits But No Degree Research Using data from the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), this case provides the first detailed profile on the academic, employment, and earnings trajectories of the SCND population and how these compare with VCCS graduates. The scholars show that the share of SCND students who are academically ready to re-enroll and would benefit from doing so may be substantially lower than policy makers anticipate. Stacking the Deck for Employment Success: Labor Market Returns to Stackable Credentials Research With rapid technological transformations to the labor market along with COVID-19 related economic disruptions, many working adults return to college to obtain additional training or credentials. Using a comparative individual fixed effects strategy and an administrative panel dataset of enrollment and employment in Virginia, we provide the first causal estimates of credential “stacking” among working adults. Batten Faculty Recognized for Excellence in Teaching, Service, Research and Engagement News This academic year, Batten School professors won a slew of internal and external recognitions for excellence in teaching, service, research and engagement. Why aren’t more adults finishing community college? News Batten School professor Ben Castleman and colleagues explore programs enacted by states to increase enrollment in community colleges. Despite these efforts, numbers have been steadily declining for much of the 2010s. Is there a way to get adults back to community college?