5 April 2017

[Book chapter] Behavioral economics and health

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    Behavioral Economics and Health
    Judd B. Kessler and C. Yiwei Zhang
    Oxford Textbook of Global Public Health
    2014

    Behavioral Economics combines the insights of Economics and Psychology to identify how individuals deviate from the standard assumptions of economic theory and to build systematic deviations into improved models of human behavior. These models allow researchers to better describe and predict individual behavior. Lessons from Behavioral Economics can be leveraged to design large-scale public health interventions and achieve policy goals.

    This chapter begins with a broad overview of Behavioral Economics and identifies settings in which policy makers may wish to intervene in health decisions. The rest of the chapter explores four major topic areas within Behavioral Economics — reward incentives, information and salience, context and framing, and social forces — and investigates their influence on health behaviors including medication adherence, obesity and weight control, and medical donation.

    Within each of the four topic areas we discuss the relevant predictions of standard economic theory, we provide evidence of the behavioral forces that lead individuals to deviate from these predictions, and then we describe various public health interventions that have leveraged the lessons of Behavioral Economics to achieve policy goals.

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