IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Decision costs and price sensitivity: Field experimental evidence from India

  • Spears, Dean
Registered author(s):

    Poor people often exhibit puzzlingly high sensitivity to low prices of important consumer health goods. This paper proposes decision costs as one explanation: whether a person buys at a price depends on whether she carefully considers the offer, which itself depends on price. A simple model predicts that deliberation costs (1) increase sensitivity to low prices; (2) can prevent cost-sharing from targeting products to buyers with high value; and (3) can have larger effects on poorer people. The principal contribution of this paper is a field experiment that sold hand-washing soap in rural India. Participants were randomly assigned to be offered soap for either a low or very low price, which was experimentally crossed with assignment to a control group or to a treatment that required deliberation. Results matched predictions of the model: the treatment decreased price sensitivity relative to the control group, and increased targeting of product take-up by need.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

    Volume (Year): 97 (2014)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 169-184

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:97:y:2014:i:c:p:169-184
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2008. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 414-427, August.
    2. Jacob Goldin & Tatiana Homonoff, 2013. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Cigarette Tax Salience and Regressivity," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 302-36, February.
    3. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    4. Easterly, William, 2006. "Planners versus Searchers in Foreign Aid," Asian Development Review, Asian Development Bank, vol. 23(2), pages 1-35.
    5. Daniel J. Benjamin & Sebastian A. Brown & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2013. "Who Is ‘Behavioral’? Cognitive Ability And Anomalous Preferences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(6), pages 1231-1255, December.
    6. Duflo, Esther & Glennerster, Rachel & Kremer, Michael, 2007. "Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit," CEPR Discussion Papers 6059, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Alessandro Tarozzi & Aprajit Mahajan & Brian Blackburn & Daniel Kopf & Lakshmi Krishnan & Joanne Yoong, 2011. "Micro-Loans, Insecticide-Treated Bednets and Malaria: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Orissa (India)," Working Papers 11-13, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    8. Spears Dean, 2011. "Economic Decision-Making in Poverty Depletes Behavioral Control," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-44, December.
    9. Shane Frederick, 2005. "Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 25-42, Fall.
    10. Ibragimov, Rustam & Müller, Ulrich K., 2010. "t-Statistic Based Correlation and Heterogeneity Robust Inference," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 28(4), pages 453-468.
    11. Reis, Ricardo, 2006. "Inattentive consumers," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 1761-1800, November.
    12. Dohmen, Thomas J & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe, 2007. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6398, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
    14. Michael Kremer, 2007. "What Works in Fighting Diarrheal Diseases in Developing Countries? A Critical Review," NBER Working Papers 12987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2009. "Early Life Health and Cognitive Function in Old Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 104-09, May.
    16. Raj Chetty & Adam Looney & Kory Kroft, 2007. "Salience and Taxation: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13330, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1999. "School Inputs And Educational Outcomes In South Africa," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 1047-1084, August.
    18. Kristina Shampanier & Nina Mazar & Dan Ariely, 2007. "Zero as a Special Price: The True Value of Free Products," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(6), pages 742-757, 11-12.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:97:y:2014:i:c:p:169-184. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.