Financial incentives for vaccination do not have negative unintended consequences

Florian H. Schneider, Pol Campos-Mercade, Stephan Meier, Devin Pope, Erik Wengström, Armando N. Meier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Financial incentives to encourage healthy and prosocial behaviours often trigger initial behavioural change1–11, but a large academic literature warns against using them12–16. Critics warn that financial incentives can crowd out prosocial motivations and reduce perceived safety and trust, thereby reducing healthy behaviours when no payments are offered and eroding morals more generally17–24. Here we report findings from a large-scale, pre-registered study in Sweden that causally measures the unintended consequences of offering financial incentives for taking the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. We use a unique combination of random exposure to financial incentives, population-wide administrative vaccination records and rich survey data. We find no negative consequences of financial incentives; we can reject even small negative impacts of offering financial incentives on future vaccination uptake, morals, trust and perceived safety. In a complementary study, we find that informing US residents about the existence of state incentive programmes also has no negative consequences. Our findings inform not only the academic debate on financial incentives for behaviour change but also policy-makers who consider using financial incentives to change behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalNature
Pages (from-to)526-533
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 11.01.2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 511 Economics
  • decision making
  • economics
  • health policy
  • human behaviour
  • public health


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