Incentivizing COVID-19 Vaccination in a Polarized and Partisan United States

Co-author: Carlos Algara

Status: Forthcoming at Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law

PDF of Manuscript

Abstract: Context: As COVID-19 vaccines were rolled out in early 2021, governments at all levels in the U.S. faced significant difficulty in consistently and efficiently administering injections in the face of vaccination resistance among a public increasingly politically polarized on vaccination preferences prior to the beginning of mass vaccinations.

Methods: Using an original conjoint fielded to a nationally representative sample prior to the mass proliferation of COVID-19 vaccines, we examine how different incentives (e.g., employer mandates, state-organized or health care provider-organized vaccination clinics, or financial incentives) affect the public’s preference to get vaccinated. We also test how financial incentive preferences correlate with self-reported vaccination intention using observational data from the Kaiser Family Foundation June 2021 Health Tracking Poll.

Findings: We find financial incentives positively influence vaccine preferences among the mass public and all partisan groups, including Republicans initially “unlikely” to be vaccinated. Using the observational data, we replicate our experimental findings showing positive financial incentive attitudes positively correlate with self-reported vaccination disclosures.

Conclusions: Our results provide support for direct financial incentives, rather than other incentives, as being a valuable tool for policymakers tasked with alleviating vaccination resistance among a U.S. mass public increasingly polarized along partisan lines.

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