Time Preferences and Medication Adherence: A Field Experiment With Pregnant Women in South Africa
CEBI Working Paper 29/20
59 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2021
Date Written: December 22, 2020
The effectiveness of health recommendations and treatment plans depends on the extent to which individuals follow them. For the individual, medication adherence involves an inter-temporal trade-off between expected future health benefits and immediate effort costs. Therefore examining time preferences may help us to understand why some people fail to follow health recommendations and treatment plans. In this paper, we use a simple, real-effort task implemented via text message to elicit the time preferences of pregnant women in South Africa. We find evidence that high discounters are significantly less likely to report to adhere to the recommendation of taking daily iron supplements daily during pregnancy. There is some indication that time-inconsistency also negatively affects adherence. Together our results suggest that measuring time preferences could help predict medication adherence and thus be used to improve preventive health care measures.
Note: Trial Registration: The AEA RCT Registry trial number associated with this project is AEARCTR-0004018. Funding Statement: Funding was generously provided by Trygg-Hansas Forskningsfond, Sweden. Declaration of Interests: None of the authors have any conflict of interests to declare. Ethics Approval Statement: Ethics Approval has been obtained from Pharma Ethics Ltd, Reference No:181021588.
Keywords: time preferences, medication adherence, field experiment
JEL Classification: C93, D91, I12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation