Blue Zones: How can a city improve the financial health of its citizens?

How can a city improve the financial health of its citizens?

We did rigorous behavioral diagnosis of Orange County, Florida

Keywords: Behavioral economics, behavioral design, cities, urban planning

The Challenge

We partnered with BlueZones, an organization devoted to helping people live longer, healthier lives, to help improve financial health in Orange County, Florida. We set out to answer a number of questions: What is the county doing well? What needs improvement? How could they measurably increase residents’ financial health within five years?

To assess opportunities for improvement, we met with local community leaders and organizations to learn about the current state of well-being. Our rigorous assessment included reviewing a thorough study of economic datasets and conducting 15 interviews with leaders and organizations, ranging from the Walt Disney Company to Orlando Public Schools to the nonprofit United Against Poverty.



Financial insecurity in Orange County affects about half the population. It is caused by a complicated set of factors that cannot be solved overnight. Most notably, Orange County has both the lowest wages of any metropolitan area in the country and the worst availability of affordable housing. For every 100 families of four in Orange County earning less than $25,000, there are only 13 affordable housing units.

We prioritized the top 4 barriers to financial health. At a high level, these included:

  • High availability of predatory credit
  • Limited access to social services
  • Lack of short-term savings
  • Affordable housing

Based on these barriers, we proposed action in four sectors: Employers, Banks, Local Government, Non-profits.

We then outlined 24 behaviorally informed, science-based recommendations that the County of Orlando could do in the next year to have measurable effects on the financial health of Orange County within five years. Each recommendation was created based on our expert insights into proven tactics to drive financial health and well-being, and then personalized to Orange County.

In the next phase of the projects, Irrational Labs will partner with Blue Zones to support the implementation and testing of these recommendations and help achieve increased financial health.

Read more about Blue Zones and their work in Orange County. 

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