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A case study of a workplace wellness program that offers financial incentives for weight loss

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  • Cawley, John
  • Price, Joshua A.

Abstract

Employers are increasingly adopting workplace wellness programs designed to improve employee health and decrease employer costs associated with health insurance and job absenteeism. This paper examines the outcomes of 2635 workers across 24 worksites who were offered financial incentives for weight loss that took various forms, including fixed payments and forfeitable bonds.

Suggested Citation

  • Cawley, John & Price, Joshua A., 2013. "A case study of a workplace wellness program that offers financial incentives for weight loss," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 794-803.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:32:y:2013:i:5:p:794-803
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2013.04.005
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John Cawley & Joshua A. Price, 2011. "Outcomes in a Program that Offers Financial Rewards for Weight Loss," NBER Chapters,in: Economic Aspects of Obesity, pages 91-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
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    4. Gary Charness & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Incentives to Exercise," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 909-931, May.
    5. Heather Royer & Mark F. Stehr & Justin R. Sydnor, 2012. "Incentives, Commitments and Habit Formation in Exercise: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Workers at a Fortune-500 Company," NBER Working Papers 18580, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Nicholas Burger & John Lynham, 2010. "Betting on weight loss … and losing: personal gambles as commitment mechanisms," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(12), pages 1161-1166.
    7. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
    8. Yakusheva, Olga & Kapinos, Kandice & Weiss, Marianne, 2011. "Peer effects and the Freshman 15: Evidence from a natural experiment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 119-132, March.
    9. Augurzky, Boris & Bauer, Thomas K. & Reichert, Arndt R. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Tauchmann, Harald, 2012. "Does Money Burn Fat? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 6888, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
    11. Cawley, John & Meyerhoefer, Chad, 2012. "The medical care costs of obesity: An instrumental variables approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 219-230.
    12. David S. Lee, 2009. "Training, Wages, and Sample Selection: Estimating Sharp Bounds on Treatment Effects," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1071-1102.
    13. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
    14. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
    15. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long & Philip Oreopoulos & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2012. "The Role of Application Assistance and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block Fafsa Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1205-1242.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. John A. List & Anya Samek, 2017. "A Field Experiment on the Impact of Incentives on Milk Choice in the Lunchroom," Public Finance Review, , vol. 45(1), pages 44-67, January.
    2. Manuela Angelucci & Silvia Prina & Heather Royer & Anya Samek, 2015. "When Incentives Backfire: Spillover Effects in Food Choice," Framed Field Experiments 00444, The Field Experiments Website.
    3. Belot, Michèle & James, Jonathan & Nolen, Patrick, 2016. "Incentives and children's dietary choices: A field experiment in primary schools," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 213-229.
    4. Pedersen, Morten Saaby & Arendt, Jacob Nielsen, 2014. "Bargaining for health: A case study of a collective agreement-based health program for manual workers," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 123-136.
    5. Barbieri, Paolo Nicola, 2016. "Weight loss, obesity traps and policy policies," MPRA Paper 71327, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Reichert, Arndt R. & Tauchmann, Harald & Wübker, Ansgar, 2015. "Weight loss and sexual activity in adult obese individuals: Establishing a causal link," Ruhr Economic Papers 561, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    7. John List & Anya Samek & Terri Zhu, 2015. "Incentives to Eat Healthy: Evidence from a Grocery Store Field Experiment," Framed Field Experiments 00421, The Field Experiments Website.
    8. Itzik Fadlon & Torben Heien Nielsen, 2017. "Family Health Behaviors," NBER Working Papers 24042, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Caliendo, Marco & Gehrsitz, Markus, 2016. "Obesity and the labor market: A fresh look at the weight penalty," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 209-225.
    10. repec:eee:soceco:v:70:y:2017:i:c:p:23-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. List, John A. & Samek, Anya Savikhin, 2015. "The behavioralist as nutritionist: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve child food choice and consumption," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 135-146.
    12. Hafner, Lucas & Tauchmann, Harald & Wübker, Ansgar, 2017. "Does moderate weight loss affect subjective health perception in obese individuals? Evidence from field experimental data," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 26/2017, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    13. Carrera, Mariana & Royer, Heather & Stehr, Mark & Syndor, Justin, 2017. "Can Financial Incentives Help People Trying to Establish New Habits? Experimental Evidence with New Gym Members," IZA Discussion Papers 10874, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Mariana Carrera & Heather Royer & Mark F. Stehr & Justin R. Sydnor, 2017. "The Structure of Health Incentives: Evidence from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 23188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Augurzky, Boris & Bauer, Thomas K. & Reichert, Arndt R. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Tauchmann, Harald, 2018. "Habit formation, obesity, and cash rewards," FAU Discussion Papers in Economics 06/2018, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Economics.
    16. Cawley, John, 2015. "An economy of scales: A selective review of obesity's economic causes, consequences, and solutions," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 244-268.
    17. Mariana Carrera & Heather Royer & Mark Stehr & Justin Sydnor, 2017. "Can Financial Incentives Help People Trying to Establish New Habits? Experimental Evidence with New Gym Members," NBER Working Papers 23567, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Barbieri, Paolo Nicola, 2015. "Body Weight, Dieting and Obesity Traps," MPRA Paper 67671, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Ouayogodé, Mariétou H., 2016. "Effectiveness of weight loss intervention in highly-motivated people," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 263-282.
    20. Peter Neumann & Cayla Saret, 2014. "Is the US “leading from behind” on health policy?," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 15(2), pages 113-116, March.
    21. repec:eee:jhecon:v:58:y:2018:i:c:p:202-214 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Obesity; Behavioral economics; Incentives; Weight loss; Time-inconsistent preferences; Hyperbolic discounting; Health; Workplace wellness;

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs

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