Skip to content
  1. Latest News

The Atlantic: A Very Simple Way to Get America Boosted

From The Atlantic: Theoretically, incentives should work. Offering people cash to change health behaviors—whether to quit smoking or keep up with exercise—made a difference in previous studies. Cash might provide a fence-sitter justification to get vaccinated, or it might offer cover for someone whose desire for a vaccine goes against local social norms. And even though the COVID vaccines are free, they come with indirect costs, such as lost wages when taking time off from work to get a shot. But theory is different from practice. “It was completely unprecedented for 24 states, more or less at the same time, to roll out these incentive programs,” says Kevin Volpp, the founding director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania. In effect, it was a grand national experiment in whether financial incentives such as lotteries and cash guarantees work, so Volpp and his colleagues decided to put the numbers through the wringer. Despite the millions of dollars poured into these high-profile efforts, they found no difference in vaccination patterns between the 24 states with incentives and the 26 states without them. Read the full story in The Atlantic.

Research Areas