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Can nudging overcome procrastinating on preventive health investments?

Willa Friedman and Nicholas Wilson

Economics & Human Biology, 2022, vol. 45, issue C

Abstract: A fundamental puzzle about human behavior is low investment in preventive health inputs. Present-biased preferences have frequently been put forth as a theoretical explanation for this, but with limited empirical evidence supporting it, especially in developing countries. We extend our previous analysis of a field experiment testing advertising strategies to increase demand for a potentially life-saving preventive health technology, voluntary medical male circumcision. Offering compensation of US$10 conditional on a complement to the procedure, a short counseling session at a providing clinic, tripled uptake of the procedure. This is consistent with the idea that subsidizing a complement encouraged procrastinating men with latent demand to invest in preventive health. In addition, framing the basic advertisement using the statement “Are you tough enough?” doubled uptake.

Keywords: Advertising; Conditional cash transfers; Framing; Men's health; Preventive health; Procrastination (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 J13 O12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2021.101040

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