Improving access to and measuring the impact of public health insurance in India

This paper studies the interaction of incentive pay and social distance in the dissemination of information about a public health insurance programme. The researchers analyse theoretically as well as empirically the effect of incentive pay when agents have pro-social objectives, but also preferences over dealing with one social group relative to another. They also analyse data from a randomised field experiment undertaken across 151 villages in South India, in which local agents were hired to spread information about the programme. The agents were paid either a flat fee or a variable rate that depended on the level of knowledge about the programme in the eligible population. The study finds that incentive pay improves knowledge transmission to households that are socially distant from the agent, but not to households similar to the agent.

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