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Habit Formation in Children: Evidence from Incentives for Healthy Eating

24 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2014  

George Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences

Joseph Price

Brigham Young University

Kevin Volpp

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: September 16, 2014

Abstract

We present findings from a field experiment conducted at 40 elementary schools involving 8,000 children and 400,000 child-day observations, which tested whether providing short-run incentives can create habit formation in children. Over a three or five week period, students received an incentive for eating a serving of fruits or vegetables during lunch. Relative to an average baseline rate of 39%, providing small incentives doubled the fraction of children eating at least one serving of fruits or vegetables. Two months after the end of the intervention, the consumption rate at schools remained 21% above baseline for the three-week treatment and 44% above baseline for the five week treatment, a significant difference. These findings indicate that short-run incentives can produce changes in behavior that persist after incentives are removed and support the natural intuition that longer interventions produce more persistent habits.

JEL Classification: J13, I18, I28

Suggested Citation

Loewenstein, George and Price, Joseph and Volpp, Kevin, Habit Formation in Children: Evidence from Incentives for Healthy Eating (September 16, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2497104 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2497104

George F. Loewenstein

Carnegie Mellon University - Department of Social and Decision Sciences ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-8787 (Phone)
412-268-6938 (Fax)

Joseph Price (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University ( email )

130 FOB
Provo, NY 84604
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.cornell.edu/pages/jpp34/

Kevin Volpp

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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