Should Firms Promote COVID-19 Vaccination to their Customers? Evidence of Social and Economic Impact from a Natural Experiment in Ridesharing
38 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2021 Last revised: 13 Dec 2021
Date Written: November 2, 2021
By late 2021, only a fraction of the world’s population had been vaccinated for COVID-19. Governments and firms have invested billions of dollars to urge people to get vaccinated quickly. While health experts have proposed several communication strategies to encourage vaccination, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of such campaigns, especially when undertaken by the private sector. Furthermore, firms may hesitate to invest if they view such initiatives as a pro-social investment with no immediate positive effect on revenues. Using a natural experiment with a ridesharing platform, we find evidence that sharing information about vaccination can have a positive impact on both vaccination rates and firm revenues. Without providing financial incentives (discounts or promotions), a simple ‘nudge’ can generate demand as well as motivate a socially beneficial action by providing relevant and timely information (closest vaccine centers, etc.). Analyzing ~4 million customer trips, we found that providing information led to ~55% increase in trips to vaccine centers and a 3.24-7.67% increase in ridesharing usage, generating ~$71,000-167,000 per week in additional revenues in the focal city. Results were likely driven by reduced search costs and an increased number of trips taken by customers once fully vaccinated.
Keywords: COVID-19, Ridesharing Platform, Nudge, Natural Experiment, Vaccination, Social Impact
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