Working Paper 14/328 - abstract

Getting a healthy start? Nudge versus economic incentives (PDF, 635kB)

Rachel Griffith, Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder, and Sarah Smith

We compare the effects of economic incentives with a “nudge” (a policy intervention that aims to influence behaviour through changing the “choice architecture”) in relation to improving dietary choices. We study a large-scale, nationally-implemented policy – the UK Healthy Start Scheme – that aimed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. The policy combined standard economic incentives with elements of nudge, the most important of which is a potential labelling effect. We show that the scheme was successful; the estimated intention to treat effect indicates that spending on fruit and vegetables increased by 15 per cent, or roughly two-thirds of a portion per household per day. The response can be attributed entirely to the economic incentive effects; there is no evidence of any effect from the nudge aspects of the policy.