Skip to main content

CEP discussion paper

Because I'm Worth It: A Lab-Field Experiment on the Spillover Effects of Incentives in Health


We conduct a controlled lab-field experiment to directly test the short-run spillover effects of one-off financial incentives in health. We consider how incentives affect effort in a physical activity task – and then how they spillover to subsequent eating behaviour. Compared to a control group, we find that low incentives increase effort and have little effect on eating behaviour. High incentives also induce more effort but lead to significantly more excess calories consumed. The key behavioural driver appears to be the level of satisfaction associated with the physical activity task, which ‘licensed’ highly paid subjects to indulge in more energy-dense food.


Paul Dolan and Matteo M. Galizzi

23 July 2014     Paper Number CEPDP1286

Download PDF - Because I'm Worth It: A Lab-Field Experiment on the Spillover Effects of Incentives in Health

This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Community Wellbeing programme.