Price incentives, or rebates, have been proposed as one promising strategy for improving diet quality among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants. This paper explores the existing evidence on effectiveness of rebates in this program. In particular, this paper considers findings from a recent RCT of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program rebates, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Healthy Incentives Pilot, in the context of the broader literature on rebate strategies. The paper concludes that rebates have a moderate impact on food intake, at moderate cost relative to alternative interventions. There is further evidence that implicit promotional effects may contribute to impacts of rebate interventions, beyond the impacts of price effects alone. However, existing studies on complementary effects of explicit promotion have been limited by relatively small sample sizes and correspondingly low power to detect differences. This appears to be a promising area for future research.
March 17, 2017