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What Money Shouldn’t Buy: Aversion to Monetary Incentives for Health Behaviors

Roberto Weber - University of Zurich
Mon, Apr 1 2024, 3:45pm - 5:00pm PDT
Lucas A - Landau 1st Floor

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Co-authors: Pol Campos-Mercade, Armando Meier, and Florian H. Schneider

We study attitudes towards offering monetary payments for health behaviors, aiming to understand how such attitudes may influence the use of monetary incentives as a policy instrument. We develop the Policy Lab, an experimental paradigm in which participants decide whether to provide a set of others with monetary incentives for vaccination. In two studies with representative samples of the Swedish population (N=2,010) and one with Swedish policymakers (N=2,008), a majority of participants oppose using monetary incentives. Despite the widespread perception that such incentives are an effective policy instrument, opposition to their use is driven by perceptions that they are coercive and unethical. Policymakers are, if anything, slightly more opposed to the use of monetary incentives. We also document that opposition to incentives extends beyond vaccination to other health domains. Our findings suggest that public opposition to the use of monetary incentives as a policy instrument may create barriers to their adoption.