The Causal Link between Financial Incentives and Weight Loss: An Evidence‐Based Survey of the Literature

20 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2014

See all articles by Alfredo R. Paloyo

Alfredo R. Paloyo

Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI-Essen); Ruhr University of Bochum; University of Wollongong

Arndt R. Reichert

World Bank; Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI-Essen)

Holger Reinermann

University of Cologne - SOCLIFE Research Training Group

Harald Tauchmann

Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI-Essen)

Date Written: July 2014

Abstract

Obesity and overweight are linked to diseases that cost society a significant amount of resources. While behavior modification can reduce the problem, instigating such lifestyle changes is an uneasy task. One potential way to reduce the problem is through the use of financial incentives. In this survey, we review the available evidence, properly emphasizing studies that credibly yield meaningful estimates of the effect of financial incentives on weight loss. We find that the scientific literature on the subject has not yet satisfactorily settled whether such a mechanism is effective at eliciting the desired behavioral and health outcomes. We therefore advocate a rigorous large‐scale randomized experiment to provide reliable estimates of the effect.

Keywords: Financial incentives, Weight loss, Obesity, Randomized experiment, Survey

Suggested Citation

Paloyo, Alfredo R. and Reichert, Arndt Rudiger and Reinermann, Holger and Tauchmann, Harald, The Causal Link between Financial Incentives and Weight Loss: An Evidence‐Based Survey of the Literature (July 2014). Journal of Economic Surveys, Vol. 28, Issue 3, pp. 401-420, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2448756 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/joes.12010

Alfredo R. Paloyo (Contact Author)

Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI-Essen) ( email )

Hohenzollernstr. 1-3
Essen, 45128
Germany

Ruhr University of Bochum ( email )

Bochum, 44780
Germany

University of Wollongong ( email )

Northfields Avenue
Wollongong, New South Wales 2522
Australia

Arndt Rudiger Reichert

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI-Essen) ( email )

Hohenzollernstr. 1-3
Essen, 45128
Germany

Holger Reinermann

University of Cologne - SOCLIFE Research Training Group ( email )

Venloer Straße 151-153
Cologne, 50672
Germany

Harald Tauchmann

Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research (RWI-Essen) ( email )

Hohenzollernstr. 1-3
45128 Essen
Germany

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