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Seminar: Attitudes toward financial incentives for health behaviors

Tinbergen Institute

An effective and widely considered, but rarely used, policy instrument is to offer incentives for healthy behavior. We study public attitudes towards offering such financial incentives, investigating whether public opposition to the use of incentives for health-related behaviors creates an impediment to their adoption. To measure and characterize attitudes, we develop an experimental paradigm in which participants decide whether to provide incentives to others for vaccination. In a representative sample of the Swedish population, we find that a large share of the population dislikes using financial incentives. Although people think incentives are effective, they also view them as coercive and perceive them to be unethical. Contrary to concerns raised in the academic literature, our findings do not suggest that people believe that incentives erode moral values or that incentives signal danger. Lastly, we document that the aversion to incentives extends beyond vaccination to other healthy behaviors, such as cancer screenings or smoking cessation. Our findings provide a basis, in public sentiment, for the limited use of financial incentives for health behaviors despite their effectiveness.

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Campus Woudestein, Room LAN 2.16


  • Florian Schneider (Universität Zürich)


Burgemeester Oudlaan 50,
3062 PA Rotterdam