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CEP discussion paper

Loss aversion on the phone


We analyze consumer switching between mobile tariff plans using consumer-level panel data. Consumers receive reminders from a specialist price-comparison website about the precise amount they could save by switching to alternative plans. We find that the effect on switching of being informed about potential savings is positive and significant. Controlling for savings, we also find that the effect of incurring overage payments is also significant and six times larger in magnitude. Paying an amount that exceeds the recurrent monthly fee weighs more on the switching decision than being informed that one can save that same amount by switching to a less inclusive plan, implying that avoidance of losses motivates switching more than the realization of equal-sized gains. We interpret this as evidence of loss aversion. We are also able to weigh how considerations of risk versus loss aversion affect mobile tariff plan choices: we find that a uniform attitude towards risk in both losses and gains has no significant influence on predicting consumers’ switching, whereas perceiving potential savings as avoidance of losses, rather than as gains, has a strong and positive effect.


Christos Genakos, Costas Roumanias and Tommaso Valletti

25 September 2015     Paper Number CEPDP1373

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