The Value of COVID-19 Tests in Latin America

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Testing is a crucial strategy to control the spread of a pandemic. Voluntary participation in this strategy will depend on individual preferences towards and willingness-to-pay (WTP) for test results. We distributed a web-based, contingent valuation survey to social-media users in 16 Latin American countries to evaluate regional attitudes towards the emerging COVID-19 outbreak and WTP for COVID-19 testing. We observe that the cost of the test and household income are important determinants of testing intentions. We find higher WTP among those reporting greater concern relative to the average respondent. Accounting for uncertainty, our results indicate a WTP of approximately $45 dollars or 4.2 % of monthly income among respondents. These results, paired with our predicted participation rate of between 84–94 % for a $1 test, suggest that local officials will be able to effectively recruit participation in this mitigation strategy given the appropriate subsidization structure.


Published online 2020 Oct 12.

JEL classification: I12, D12.

PMCID: PMC7550178; PMID: 33126025 This is a free PMC article, part of the Public Health Emergency COVID-19 Initiative.