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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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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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  2. Bengt Holmstrom & Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 742, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  3. Ariel Pakes, 1986. "Patents as Options: Some Estimates of the Value of Holding European Patent Stocks," NBER Working Papers 1340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  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. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Canice Prendergast, 1999. "The Provision of Incentives in Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 7-63, March.
  13. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. John K. Dagsvik & Steinar Strøm, 2004. "Sectoral Labor Supply, Choice Restrictions and Functional Form," Discussion Papers 388, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  2. 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.
  3. Bernard Fortin & Nicolas Jacquemet & Bruce S. Shearer, 2010. "Labour Supply, Work Effort and Contract Choice: Theory and Evidence on Physicians," CIRANO Working Papers 2010s-40, CIRANO.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Harry J. Paarsch & Bruce S. Shearer, 2007. "The Response to Incentives and Contractual Efficiency: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Cahiers de recherche 0701, CIRPEE.
  8. Tzioumis, Konstantinos & Gee, Matthew, 2013. "Nonlinear incentives and mortgage officers’ decisions," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 436-453.

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