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Increasing the Take-up of Public Health Services: An Experiment on Nudges and Digital Tools in Uruguay

Ana María Cuesta, Lucia Delgado, Sebastian Gallegos (), Benjamin Roseth and Mario Sánchez

No 11391, IDB Publications (Working Papers) from Inter-American Development Bank

Abstract: In this paper, we test whether promoting digital government tools increases the take-up of an important public health prevention service: cervical cancer screening. We implemented an at-scale field experiment in Uruguay, randomly encouraging women to make medical appointments with a digital application or reminding them to do it as usual at their local clinic. Using administrative records, we found that the digital application nearly doubled attendance of a screening appointment compared to reminders and tripled the rate compared to a pure control group (3.2 percentage point increase over a base of 1.9 percent). Survey data suggests that the impacts of the intervention were mostly mediated by reduced transaction costs. Our results highlight the potential of investing in digital government to improve the take-up of public services.

Keywords: women; public services; behavioral economics; Information; transaction costs; Field experiment; text messages; Health Outcomes; digitalgovernment; cancer screening (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D90 D91 I12 I15 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-07
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