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Submitted by Alonso Sánchez on

Thanks, Dave, for these reviews and the relevant connections you have made in this post. Let me add two useful references related to attracting and motivating public sector workers.

First, I was familiar with Ashraf et al. (2016) and Dal Bó et al. (2013), but it was only until I read Duflo's The Economist as Plumber paper that I became aware of Deserrannos (2017). This paper covers an experiment in Uganda that introduces variation in the salience of financial earnings in ads for health promoter jobs, and finds different results from these other studies—there is crowding out of prosocial motivation in this case. Moreover, among those selected for the jobs, being prosocial turns out is the key predictor of retention and performance. Below I quote from the last version of the paper I was able to track (and include the link) in which the author tries to reconcile the conflicting evidence:

“My paper shows that the selection effects found in these two papers (e.g., the lack of motivation crowding-out) may not generalize to jobs in which the recruiter is not as well-known and which do not consist of a single type of task. Whenever there is uncertainty about the job, I show that financial incentives can provide information about the job and backfire if they attract the wrong type of workers.”

I also include a link to Deserranno's blog-post in this space back in 2014.

Second, on teacher motivation, you discuss performance incentives on the job, but how about accountability through school inspections? Using panel data from India, Muralidharan et al. (2017) find that teacher monitoring via inspectors may be an order of magnitude more cost-effective in reducing teacher absenteeism and thus in decreasing the effective pupil-teacher ratio (net of teacher absence) than hiring more teachers.

The link to that paper is below.