About the Seminar
Previous research has shown that returning a lost wallet correlates with certain prosocial measures of the World Values Survey (Beres, 2013; Knack and Keefer, 1997) such as trust and civic honesty. Recently, Cohn et al (2019) carried out a separate lost wallet field experiment in 40 countries and placed China at the bottom of the list. This paper explores the connection between the return of a lost waller and the over prescription of antibiotic drugs by physicians in registered single physician for-profit clinics. Our intervention consists of a mystery shopper audit where simulated patients record variables describing the practice style at the clinic, such as duration of consultation, diagnostic procedure and which drugs were prescribed. Using a field experiment of 96 primary care clinics in a first-tier city in China, we consider the question if male doctors over prescribe antibiotics more than female doctors. We let students with basic medical training play the role of simulated patients ("mystery shoppers") visiting primary care clinics while presenting symptoms of the common cold. We investigate the primary health care delivery of doctors under this mystery shopper audit, and evaluate the correlation of returning a lost wallet and the physician's earlier behavior. We show that when we control for adverse selection using a protocol which allows a physician to return a "lost wallet" dropped in his office (in order to distinguish between the level of prosociality among physicians), the primary reason for increased antibiotic prescriptions is a result of less altruistic male doctors in our sample. We make the observation that male doctors prescribe more antibiotics but male doctors who return the lost wallet are less likely to prescribe antibiotics.