Hypothetical versus real willingness to pay in the health care sector: Results from a field experiment

Karen Blumenschein, Magnus Johannesson, Krista K. Yokoyama, Patricia R. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


We conducted a field experiment comparing hypothetical and real purchase decisions for a pharmacist provided asthma management program among 172 subjects with asthma. Subjects received either a dichotomous choice contingent valuation question or were given the opportunity to actually enroll in the program. Three different prices were used: US$ 15, 40, and 80. In the hypothetical group, 38% of subjects said that they would purchase the good at the stated price, but only 12% of subjects in the real group purchased the good (p=0.000). We cannot, however, reject the null hypothesis that 'definitely sure' hypothetical yes responses, as identified in a follow-up question, correspond to real yes responses. We conclude that the dichotomous choice contingent valuation method overestimates willingness to pay, but that it may be possible to correct for this overestimation by sorting out 'definitely sure' yes responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-457
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Health Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Jonathan Gruber and an anonymous referee for helpful comments. This research was funded by a Drug Information Association Research Grant.


  • Calibration
  • Contingent valuation
  • Field experiments
  • Willingness to pay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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