CFDP 2275

Is Habit a Powerful Policy Instrument to Induce Prosocial Behavioral Change?


Publication Date: February 2021

Pages: 36


Recent literature suggests the power of interventions to change habits. In a dense slum in Nairobi, we adopt best practices from the habit literature to encourage toilet use instead of alternatives that damage community health. Offering subsidies increased toilet usage, effects continue for one month after discounts end, but erode thereafter. Treatments designed to induce habit formation (marketing, time-limited discounts encouraging repetition, discounts for longer periods, targeting `habitual types’) generated no greater persistence. We see some persistent behavior change due to learning about the new toilet option. It appears difficult to induce pro-social behavior without private benefits through habit change.

Keywords: Behavioral Economics, Habit Formation, Kenya, Sanitation

JEL Classification Codes: D91, O12

JEL Classification Codes: D91O12

PDF icon d2275.pdf