Snacks, nudges and asymmetric peer influence: Evidence from food choice experiments with children in Indonesia

Margarita de Vries Mecheva, Matthias Rieger*, Robert Sparrow, Erfi Prafiantini, Rina Agustina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Many children in low- and middle-income countries are growing up during a rapid nutrition tran- sition. Experimental evidence on food choice in developing countries is scarce, while it is unclear to what extent evidence from high-income countries can be generalized. Children participated in a snack choice experiment. We expose some children to emoji labels encouraging healthy snacks, while others observe healthy or unhealthy snacking by peers. While emoji labels moderately pro- mote healthy snacking, the adverse effect of observing a peer eating the unhealthy snack is very large. The effect associated with observing a healthy peer is insignificant. Additionally, cross- randomized blocks of children watched a nutrition video to study the interaction of information provision and nudging. The video independently improves healthy choices but does not aid the emoji nudge and cannot counter the strong negative peer effect. We compare our findings to studies conducted in developed countries and discuss policy implications.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102508
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

JEL codes: I15, C93
Acknowledgments This study was pre-registered at the AEA Trial Registry as AEARCTR-0005025. This paper is part of the PhD thesis of Margarita de Vries Mecheva, supervised by Matthias Rieger and Robert Sparrow. We thank Khalida Fauzia, Apriliya Tri Hidayati, Ana Dina Sakinah, Yemima Zidky Edelways H., Eva Nurjayanti, Aldiana Mustikaning Henandi, Stephanie Yesica and Nadhifa Aisyah Amalia Rachmi for their hard work during the data collection. We received funding from the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Development Economics Group at Wageningen University. We thank the Editor John Cawley and two anonymous referees for their constructive comments. We also received helpful comments and suggestions from Marrit van den Berg, Arjun Bedi, Jimena Pacheco, Zemzem Shigute Shuka, Marcos Dominguez Viera, João Pereira dos Santos, Brandon Restrepo, Sirojuddin Arif and Elan Satriawan. This study was approved by the Ethics Committees of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) and the Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia. The study implementation by international visiting scholar was approved by the Dean Faculty of Medicine, the Rector of Universitas Indonesia and the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education. We are grateful to the Head of Doctorate Study Program in Nutrition (2017-2020), International Relation Office and Dean Office, Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia for the arrangement of the permission for international vising scholar by the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education. We thank all students, parents, teachers, and principals of 19 participating primary schools in Central Jakarta and Government of DKI Jakarta for their cooperation during the study. The authors report no conflict of interests.


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