Policy makers believe money motivates more than it does.

Policy makers believe money motivates more than it does.

Publication date: Jan 22, 2024

To motivate contributions to public goods, should policy makers employ financial incentives like taxes, fines, subsidies, and rewards? While these are widely considered as the classic policy approach, a substantial academic literature suggests the impact of financial incentives is not always positive; they can sometimes fail or even backfire. To test whether policy makers are overly bullish about financial incentives, we asked county heads, mayors, and municipal government representatives of medium-to-large towns in Germany to predict the effects of a financial incentive on COVID-19 vaccination, and tested the exact same incentive in a field experiment involving all 41,548 inhabitants (clustered in 10,032 addresses) of the German town of Ravensburg. Whereas policy makers overwhelmingly predict that the financial incentive will increase vaccination-by 15. 3 percentage points on average-the same financial incentive yielded a precisely estimated null effect on vaccination. We discuss when financial incentives are most likely to fail, and conclude that it is critical to educate policy makers on the potential pitfalls of employing financial incentives to promote contributions to public goods.

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Concepts Keywords
Academic Contributions
Backfire Employ
Germany Fail
Taxes Financial
Vaccination Goods


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
disease VO vaccination
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
disease VO Tax
drug DRUGBANK Medical air
drug DRUGBANK Water
disease VO effectiveness
disease VO efficiency
disease VO vaccine
disease VO USA
disease MESH uncertainty
disease VO effective
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
disease VO vaccinated
disease VO population
drug DRUGBANK Methionine
drug DRUGBANK Etoperidone
disease IDO intervention
pathway REACTOME Translation
disease VO time
drug DRUGBANK Tropicamide
disease VO boost vaccination
disease VO ineffective
disease VO efficient
disease VO organization
disease VO report
disease IDO blood
disease VO organ
disease VO unvaccinated
disease VO vaccine effectiveness
disease MESH mutation frequencies
drug DRUGBANK Stavudine
drug DRUGBANK Isosorbide Mononitrate
disease VO frequency
disease MESH illusions
disease MESH weight loss
disease VO immunization

Original Article

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