Can Behavioural Interventions Be Too Salient? Evidence from Traffic Safety Messages


Jonathan Hall

Friday 15 Oct 2021, 15:30 - 16:45
Room 2-18
Polak Building
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European countries have increasingly adopted wage subsidies for the sector of domestic services to create (formal) employment opportunities for low-skilled workers. Yet, empirical evidence on their effectiveness is scarce.

While behavioural interventions are designed to seize attention, little consideration has been given to the costs of doing so. We estimate these costs in the context of a highway safety campaign that displays traffic fatality counts one week each month.

We find that this intervention increases the number of crashes, with the effect dissipating over 7 km. The effects do not persist beyond the treated weeks. Crashes increase statewide during treated weeks, inconsistent with any benefits.

Our results show that behavioural interventions can be too salient, crowding out more important considerations and causing interventions to backfire with costly consequences.

Jonathan Hall

Jonathan holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago and is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. He is an applied microeconomist with a focus on transportation and urban economics.

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