How “Pay for Success” Allows Governments to Experiment Without Risk (Harvard Kennedy School PolicyCast)

By Harvard Kennedy School

Governments of all sizes are often admonished for not getting creative about solving problems, but it’s hard to blame civic leaders for taking a conservative approach with their constituents’ money. But what if, instead of paying up front for new social programs, governments only paid after it had accomplished its goals?

That’s the idea behind the Pay For Success model, also known as Social Impact Bonds, that Professor Jeffrey Liebman has been piloting across the country through the Kennedy School’s Government Performance Lab.

In this week’s episode of HKS PolicyCast, Liebman explains how Pay For Success works, by generating private investment to fund social programs, with taxpayers only on the hook if the program meets its objectives.

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