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Paper by Silvia Prina on peer outreach and COVID-19 related health behaviors accepted at Journal of Development Economics

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“Passing the Message: Peer Outreach about COVID-19 Precautions in Zambia” was accepted at the Journal of Development Economics.

Abstract

During public health emergencies, spreading accurate information and increasing adherence to recommended behaviors is vital for communal welfare. However, uncertainty, mistrust, and misinformation can slow the adoption of best practices. Preexisting social networks can amplify and endorse information from authorities, and technology makes peer-to-peer messaging scalable and fast. Using text messages and small cash incentives, we test a peer-based information campaign to encourage adherence to recommended COVID-19-related health behaviors in Zambia. Individuals respond favorably to the suggestion to pass messages to peers; however, financial incentives neither increase the dissemination of messages nor cause changes in health behaviors.

Link to NBER working paper

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