EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Messages on COVID-19 Prevention in India Increased Symptoms Reporting and Adherence to Preventive Behaviors Among 25 Million Recipients with Similar Effects on Non-recipient Members of Their Communities

Abhijit Banerjee, Marcella Alsan, Emily Breza, Arun Chandrasekhar (), Abhijit Chowdhury, Esther Duflo, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham and Benjamin Olken

No 27496, NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc

Abstract: During health crises, like COVID-19, individuals are inundated with messages promoting health-preserving behavior. Does additional light-touch messaging by a credible individual change behavior? Do the features of the message matter? To answer this, we conducted a large-scale messaging campaign in West Bengal, India. Twenty-five million individuals were sent an SMS containing a 2.5-minute clip, delivered by West Bengal native and 2019 Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee. All messages encouraged reporting symptoms to the local public health worker. In addition, each message emphasizes one health-preserving behavior (distancing or hygiene) and one motivation for action (effects on everyone or just on self). Further, some messages addressed concerns about ostracism of the infected. Messages were randomized at the PIN code level. As control, three million individuals received a message pointing them to government information. The campaign (i) doubled the reporting of health symptoms to the community health workers (p = 0.001 for fever, p = 0.024 for respiratory symptoms); (ii) decreased travel beyond one’s village in the last two days by 20% (p = 0.026) (on a basis of 37% in control) and increased estimated hand-washing when returning home by 7% (p = 0.044) (67.5% in control); (iii) spilled over to behaviors not mentioned in the message – mask-wearing was never mentioned but increased 2% (p = 0.042), while distancing and hygiene both increased in the sample where they were not mentioned by similar amounts as where they were mentioned; (iv) spilled over onto nonrecipients within the same community, with effects similar to those for individuals who received the messages.

JEL-codes: D8 D83 I1 I15 I18 O1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hea
Note: DEV HE LS PE
References: View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://www.nber.org/papers/w27496.pdf (application/pdf)
Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at http://www.nber.org/wwphelp.html. Free access is also available to older working papers.

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27496

Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
http://www.nber.org/papers/w27496
The price is Paper copy available by mail.

Access Statistics for this paper

More papers in NBER Working Papers from National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.. Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by ().

 
Page updated 2020-11-29
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27496