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Short-Run Subsidies and Long-Run Adoption of New Health Products: Evidence from a Field Experiment

  • Pascaline Dupas

Short-run subsidies for health products are common in poor countries. How do they affect long-run adoption? We present a model of technology adoption in which people learn about a technology's effectiveness by using it (or observing others using it) for some time, but people quit using it too early if they face higher-than-expected usage costs (e.g., side effects). The extent to which one-off subsidies increase experimentation, and thereby affect learning and long-run adoption, then depends on people's priors on these usage costs. One-off subsidies can also affect long-run adoption through reference-dependence: People might anchor around the subsidized price and be unwilling to pay more for the product later. We estimate these effects in a two-stage randomized field experiment in Kenya. We find that, for a new technology with a lower usage cost than the technology it replaces, short-run subsidies increase long-run adoption through experience and social learning effects. We find no evidence that people anchor around subsidized prices.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16298.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Pascaline Dupas, 2014. "Short‐Run Subsidies and Long‐Run Adoption of New Health Products: Evidence From a Field Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(1), pages 197-228, 01.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16298
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