IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/qjecon/v134y2019i4p1747-1791..html
   My bibliography  Save this article

What do Workplace Wellness Programs do? Evidence from the Illinois Workplace Wellness Study

Author

Listed:
  • Damon Jones
  • David Molitor
  • Julian Reif

Abstract

Workplace wellness programs cover over 50 million U.S. workers and are intended to reduce medical spending, increase productivity, and improve well-being. Yet limited evidence exists to support these claims. We designed and implemented a comprehensive workplace wellness program for a large employer and randomly assigned program eligibility and financial incentives at the individual level for nearly 5,000 employees. We find strong patterns of selection: during the year prior to the intervention, program participants had lower medical expenditures and healthier behaviors than nonparticipants. The program persistently increased health screening rates, but we do not find significant causal effects of treatment on total medical expenditures, other health behaviors, employee productivity, or self-reported health status after more than two years. Our 95% confidence intervals rule out 84% of previous estimates on medical spending and absenteeism.

Suggested Citation

  • Damon Jones & David Molitor & Julian Reif, 2019. "What do Workplace Wellness Programs do? Evidence from the Illinois Workplace Wellness Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 134(4), pages 1747-1791.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:134:y:2019:i:4:p:1747-1791.
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/qje/qjz023
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Miriam Bruhn & David McKenzie, 2009. "In Pursuit of Balance: Randomization in Practice in Development Field Experiments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 200-232, October.
    2. Heather Royer & Mark Stehr & Justin Sydnor, 2015. "Incentives, Commitments, and Habit Formation in Exercise: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Workers at a Fortune-500 Company," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 51-84, July.
    3. Michael Rothschild & Joseph Stiglitz, 1976. "Equilibrium in Competitive Insurance Markets: An Essay on the Economics of Imperfect Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 629-649.
    4. Gary Charness & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Incentives to Exercise," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(3), pages 909-931, May.
    5. Alberto Abadie & Susan Athey & Guido Imbens & Jeffrey Wooldridge, 2017. "When Should You Adjust Standard Errors for Clustering?," Papers 1710.02926, arXiv.org, revised Oct 2017.
    6. Michael Geruso & Timothy J. Layton, 2017. "Selection in Health Insurance Markets and Its Policy Remedies," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 23-50, Fall.
    7. Baicker, Katherine & Cutler, David M. & Song, Zirui, 2010. "Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings," Scholarly Articles 5345879, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    8. Wilson, Charles, 1977. "A model of insurance markets with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 167-207, December.
    9. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
    10. Joanne Salop & Steven Salop, 1976. "Self-Selection and Turnover in the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 90(4), pages 619-627.
    11. John Cawley, 2014. "The Affordable Care Act Permits Greater Financial Rewards For Weight Loss: A Good Idea In Principle, But Many Practical Concerns Remain," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 33(3), pages 810-820, June.
    12. Bhattacharya Jayanta & Vogt William B., 2014. "Employment and Adverse Selection in Health Insurance," Forum for Health Economics & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 17(1), pages 1-26, January.
    13. Joanne Salop & Steven C. Salop, 1976. "Self-selection and turnover in the labor market," Special Studies Papers 80, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    14. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Oyer, Paul & Schaefer, Scott, 2011. "Personnel Economics: Hiring and Incentives," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 20, pages 1769-1823, Elsevier.
    2. Anne Wyatt & Hermann Frick, 2010. "Accounting for Investments in Human Capital: A Review," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 20(3), pages 199-220, September.
    3. Homonoff, Tatiana & Willage, Barton & Willén, Alexander, 2020. "Rebates as incentives: The effects of a gym membership reimbursement program," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    4. repec:eee:labchp:v:2:y:1986:i:c:p:789-848 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Thakor, Anjan V, 1982. "An Exploration of Competitive Signalling Equilibria with "Third Party" Information Production: The Case of Debt Insurance," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 37(3), pages 717-739, June.
    6. Brown, Jason L. & Farrington, Sukari & Sprinkle, Geoffrey B., 2016. "Biased self-assessments, feedback, and employees' compensation plan choices," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 45-59.
    7. Edward P. Lazear, 1986. "Incentive Contracts," NBER Working Papers 1917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Alberto Bayo-Moriones & Jose E. Galdon-Sanchez & Maia Güell, 2010. "Is seniority-based pay used as a motivational device? Evidence from plant-level data," Research in Labor Economics, in: Solomon W. Polachek & Konstantinos Tatsiramos (ed.), Jobs, Training, and Worker Well-being, volume 30, pages 155-187, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    9. Edward P. Lazear & Paul Oyer, 2012. "Personnel Economics," Introductory Chapters, in: Robert Gibbons & John Roberts (ed.),The Handbook of Organizational Economics, Princeton University Press.
    10. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Personnel Economics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121883, December.
    11. Patrizia Lattarulo & Marco Mariani & Laura Razzolini, 2017. "Nudging museums attendance: a field experiment with high school teens," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 41(3), pages 259-277, August.
    12. Robert J. Gary-Bobo & Alain Trannoy, 2015. "Optimal student loans and graduate tax under moral hazard and adverse selection," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(3), pages 546-576, September.
    13. Marcus Berliant & Chia-Ming Yu, 2015. "Locational Signaling And Agglomeration," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(5), pages 757-773, November.
    14. Dominik Schreyer & Sascha L. Schmidt & Benno Torgler, 2020. "Using reminders with different reward opportunities to reduce no-show behavior: Empirical evidence from a large-scale field experiment in professional sport," CREMA Working Paper Series 2020-19, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    15. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    16. Wang, Jun & Li, Bo, 2020. "Does employer learning with statistical discrimination exist in China? Evidence from Chinese Micro Survey Data," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 319-333.
    17. Carrillo-Tudela, Carlos & Kaas, Leo, 2015. "Worker mobility in a search model with adverse selection," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 340-386.
    18. Dosis, Anastasios, 2018. "On signalling and screening in markets with asymmetric information," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 140-149.
    19. Peng Shi & Wei Zhang, 2016. "A Test of Asymmetric Learning in Competitive Insurance With Partial Information Sharing," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 83(3), pages 557-578, September.
    20. Eszter Czibor & David Jimenez‐Gomez & John A. List, 2019. "The Dozen Things Experimental Economists Should Do (More of)," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 86(2), pages 371-432, October.
    21. John Cawley & Alex Susskind & Barton Willage, 2020. "The Impact of Information Disclosure on Consumer Behavior: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment of Calorie Labels on Restaurant Menus," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 39(4), pages 1020-1042, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • M5 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:134:y:2019:i:4:p:1747-1791.. 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: . General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Oxford University Press or Christopher F. Baum (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.