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Bandwagoning, free-riding and heterogeneity in influenza vaccine decisions: an online experiment

Galizzi, Matteo M., W. Lau, Krystal, Miraldo, Marisa and Hauck, Katharina (2022) Bandwagoning, free-riding and heterogeneity in influenza vaccine decisions: an online experiment. Health Economics (United Kingdom), 31 (4). 614 - 646. ISSN 1057-9230

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Identification Number: 10.1002/hec.4467


‘Nudge’-based social norms messages conveying high population influenza vaccination coverage levels can encourage vaccination due to bandwagoning effects but also discourage vaccination due to free-riding effects on low risk of infection, making their impact on vaccination uptake ambiguous. We develop a theoretical framework to capture heterogeneity around vaccination behaviors, and empirically measure the causal effects of different messages about vaccination coverage rates on four self-reported and behavioral vaccination intention measures. In an online experiment, N = 1365 UK adults are randomly assigned to one of seven treatment groups with different messages about their social environment's coverage rate (varied between 10% and 95%), or a control group with no message. We find that treated groups have significantly greater vaccination intention than the control. Treatment effects increase with the coverage rate up to a 75% level, consistent with a bandwagoning effect. For coverage rates above 75%, the treatment effects, albeit still positive, stop increasing and remain flat (or even decline). Our results suggest that, at higher coverage rates, free-riding behavior may partially crowd out bandwagoning effects of coverage rate messages. We also find significant heterogeneity of these effects depending on the individual perceptions of risks of infection and of the coverage rates.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
JEL classification: I - Health, Education, and Welfare > I1 - Health > I12 - Health Production: Nutrition, Mortality, Morbidity, Suicide, Substance Abuse and Addiction, Disability, and Economic Behavior
D - Microeconomics > D9 - Intertemporal Choice and Growth > D91 - Intertemporal Consumer Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
Z - Other Special Topics > Z1 - Cultural Economics; Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology > Z13 - Social Norms and Social Capital; Social Networks
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2022 15:39
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2024 20:00

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