Skip to content
  1. Latest News

Knowledge@Wharton: Will COVID-19 Vaccination Incentives Work

Iwan Barankay, Wharton management professor of business economics and public policy, has spent years studying what works to encourage patients to take their medications. His latest paper on statin adherence was published earlier this month. Like many previous studies, this one also finds that financial incentives aren’t persuasive for patients who have complicated lives. Low income, inadequate housing, lack of transportation, caregiving to others in the household, and the sheer burden of chronic illness are all factors that can contribute to laxity. Incentives work best when they are designed to help people overcome behavioral problems of inattention or inconsistency — a bribe to produce a desirable outcome in the short term. While that sounds like a perfect fit for the COVID-19 vaccine, Barankay explained why it isn’t. He said some people will get the vaccine no matter what, while others will never take it. Those in the middle are unlikely to be moved by money because they are concerned about safety. Barankay and other experts are most concerned about the people “on the margins” who want the vaccine but cannot get it because of socioeconomic barriers. Read more at Knowledge@Wharton.