Do Economic Incentives Promote Physical Activity? Evaluating the Impact of the London Congestion Charge on Active Commuting and Health

26 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2014

See all articles by Ryota Nakamura

Ryota Nakamura

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Emma Coombes

University of East Anglia (UEA)

Marc Suhrcke

University of East Anglia

Date Written: March 27, 2014

Abstract

We investigate the role of economic incentives for health behaviour by estimating the impacts of the London Congestion Charge, a major transportation policy which increases the cost of car use within the central London area, on travel-related physical activity and health. Individuals living inside the charging zone are eligible for a 90% discount of the charge. Using a geographical information system (GIS), we analyse full-digit post code information to precisely identify the eligibility of the discount for survey participants in the London Travel Demand Survey 2005-2011. We employ a boundary regression-discontinuity design, and find no evidence that the financial incentive promotes active commuting (cycling and walking) or improves general health status around the border of the congestion charging zone. The result rejects the high aspirations expressed in the social epidemiology and public health literature.

Keywords: financial incentive, health behavior, the London Congestion Charge, geographical information system, regression-discontinuity

JEL Classification: D04, I18, R48

Suggested Citation

Nakamura, Ryota and Coombes, Emma and Suhrcke, Marc, Do Economic Incentives Promote Physical Activity? Evaluating the Impact of the London Congestion Charge on Active Commuting and Health (March 27, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2416774 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2416774

Ryota Nakamura (Contact Author)

University of East Anglia (UEA) ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

Emma Coombes

University of East Anglia (UEA) ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

Marc Suhrcke

University of East Anglia ( email )

Norwich Research Park
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom

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