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Subsidizing Health-Conscious Behavior Now or Later


  • Danilowicz, Kamila
  • Schwager, Robert


We examine subsidies for health care when consumers have present-biased preferences, which lead them to underestimate the effect of today s consumption on future health. We compare immediate subsidies paid for health-conscious consumption and future subsidies rewarding a good health outcome. We show that, while both policies can implement the first best choice, doing so by future subsidies results in higher costs for the government. This arises since the individual anticipates that, from today s perspective, she will make biased use of future subsidies. Hence, in order to create the same incentive effect, a future subsidy must be higher in present value terms.

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  • Danilowicz, Kamila & Schwager, Robert, 2013. "Subsidizing Health-Conscious Behavior Now or Later," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 80008, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:80008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Helmuth Cremer & Philippe De Donder & Darío Maldonado & Pierre Pestieau, 2012. "Taxing Sin Goods and Subsidizing Health Care," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(1), pages 101-123, March.
    2. Craig A. Gallet & John A. List, 2003. "Cigarette demand: a meta-analysis of elasticities," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(10), pages 821-835.
    3. Ted O'Donoghue & Matthew Rabin, 1999. "Incentives for Procrastinators," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 769-816.
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    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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