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The Welfare Effects of Incentive Schemes

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  • Adam Copeland
  • Cyril Monnet

Abstract

This paper computes the change in welfare associated with the introduction of incentives. We calculate by how much the welfare gains of increased output due to incentives outweigh workers' disutility from increased effort. We accomplish this by studying the use of incentives by a firm in the check-clearing industry. Using this firm's production records, we model and estimate the worker's dynamic effort decision problem. We find that the firm's incentive scheme has a large effect on productivity, raising it by 12% over the sample period for the average worker. Using our parameter estimates, we show that the cost of increased effort due to incentives is equal to the dollar value of a 5% rise in productivity. Welfare is measured as the output produced minus the cost of effort; hence, the net increase in the average worker's welfare due to the introduction of the firm's bonus plan is 7%. Under a first-best scheme, we find that the net increase in welfare is 9%. Copyright , Wiley-Blackwell.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1467-937X.2008.00513.x
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Review of Economic Studies.

Volume (Year): 76 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 93-113

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Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:76:y:2009:i:1:p:93-113

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  1. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  2. Sanford J Grossman & Oliver D Hart, 2001. "An Analysis of the Principal-Agent Problem," Levine's Working Paper Archive 391749000000000339, David K. Levine.
  3. Pakes, Ariel S, 1986. "Patents as Options: Some Estimates of the Value of Holding European Patent Stocks," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(4), pages 755-84, July.
  4. Judith A. Chevalier & Glenn D. Ellison, 1995. "Risk Taking by Mutual Funds as a Response to Incentives," NBER Working Papers 5234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Pierre André Chiappori & Bernard Salanié, 2002. "Testing Contract Theory: A Survey of Some Recent Work," CESifo Working Paper Series 738, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Margiotta, Mary M & Miller, Robert A, 2000. "Managerial Compensation and the Cost of Moral Hazard," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 41(3), pages 669-719, August.
  7. Rust, John, 1987. "Optimal Replacement of GMC Bus Engines: An Empirical Model of Harold Zurcher," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 999-1033, September.
  8. Paul Oyer, 1998. "Fiscal Year Ends And Nonlinear Incentive Contracts: The Effect On Business Seasonality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(1), pages 149-185, February.
  9. Goffe, William L. & Ferrier, Gary D. & Rogers, John, 1994. "Global optimization of statistical functions with simulated annealing," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1-2), pages 65-99.
  10. Edward P. Lazear, 1996. "Performance Pay and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 5672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-28, March.
  12. J. H. Abbring & P.-A. Chiappori & J. J. Heckman & J. Pinquet, 2002. "Testing for Moral Hazard on Dynamic Insurance Data," THEMA Working Papers 2002-24, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  13. Ferrall, Christopher & Shearer, Bruce, 1999. "Incentives and Transactions Costs within the Firm: Estimating an Agency Model Using Payroll Records," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(2), pages 309-38, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Paarsch, Harry J. & Shearer, Bruce S., 2009. "The response to incentives and contractual efficiency: Evidence from a field experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 481-494, July.
  2. Tzioumis, Konstantinos & Gee, Matthew, 2013. "Nonlinear incentives and mortgage officers’ decisions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 436-453.
  3. Fortin, Bernard & Jacquemet, Nicolas & Shearer, Bruce, 2010. "Labour Supply, Work Effort and Contract Choice: Theory and Evidence on Physicians," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2010-30, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 21 Oct 2010.
  4. Steinar Str�m & John K. Dagsvik, 2006. "Sectoral labour supply, choice restrictions and functional form," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(6), pages 803-826.
  5. John Rust & Richard Staelin, 2011. "Rust’s and Staelin’s Comments on: “A structural model of sales force compensation dynamics: estimation and field implementation” by Sanjog Misra and Harikesh Nair," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 259-265, September.
  6. Omar Al-Ubaydli & Steffen Andersen & Uri Gneezy & John A. List, 2012. "Carrots that Look Like Sticks: Toward an Understanding of Multitasking Incentive Schemes," NBER Working Papers 18453, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Sanjog Misra & Harikesh Nair, 2011. "A structural model of sales-force compensation dynamics: Estimation and field implementation," Quantitative Marketing and Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 211-257, September.
  8. Xavier d'Haultfoeuille & Philippe Février, 2011. "The Provision of Wage Incentives : A Structural Estimation Using Contracts Variation," Working Papers 2011-29, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.

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