NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Conforming and Non-conforming Peer Effects in Vaccination Decisions

Elizabeth Bodine-Baron, Sarah Nowak, Raffaello Varadavas, Neeraj Sood

NBER Working Paper No. 19528
Issued in October 2013
NBER Program(s):   HC   HE

Traditional economic models of vaccination assume that agents free-ride on the vaccination decision of others. These models show that private vaccination rates are always below the social optimal and even large subsidies cannot achieve disease eradication. In this paper, we build a model where in addition to the desire to free-ride, agents have a desire to conform to the vaccination decisions of their peers. In this model privately optimal vaccination rates can be higher or lower than the social optimal and thus subsidies for vaccination are not always optimal. However, in certain cases, even small subsidies can achieve disease eradication.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19528

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