NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Liang R. Bai

School of Economics
University of Edinburgh

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2017Self-Control and Demand for Preventive Health: Evidence from Hypertension in India
with Benjamin Handel, Edward Miguel, Gautam Rao: w23727
Self-control problems constitute a potential explanation for the under-investment in preventive health care observed in low-income countries. A commonly proposed policy tool to solve such problems is offering consumers commitment devices. We conduct a field experiment to evaluate the effectiveness of different types of theoretically-motivated commitment contracts in increasing preventive doctor visits by hypertensive patients in rural India. We document varying levels of takeup of the different commitment contracts, but find no effects on actual doctor visits or individual health outcomes. Thus, a substantial number of individuals pay for commitments, but then fail to follow through on the specified task, losing money without experiencing any health benefit. We develop and structurally est...
 
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