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Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia

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  • Nava Ashraf
  • James Berry
  • Jesse M. Shapiro

Abstract

The controversy over how much to charge for health products in the developing world rests, in part, on whether higher prices can increase use, either by targeting distribution to high-use households (a screening effect), or by stimulating use psychologically through a sunk-cost effect. We develop a methodology for separating these two effects. We implement the methodology in a field experiment in Zambia using door-to-door marketing of a home water purification solution. We find evidence of economically important screening effects. By contrast, we find no consistent evidence of sunk-cost effects. (JEL C93, D12, I11, M31, O12)

Suggested Citation

  • Nava Ashraf & James Berry & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2383-2413, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:5:p:2383-2413
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship

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    1. Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia (AER 2010) in ReplicationWiki

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