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Cheating and Incentives: Learning from a Policy Experiment


  • César Martinelli
  • Susan W. Parker
  • Ana Cristina Pérez-Gea
  • Rodimiro Rodrigo


We use a database generated by a policy intervention that incentivized learning as measured by standardized exams to investigate empirically the relationship between cheating by students and cash incentives to students and teachers. We adapt methods from the education measurement literature to calculate the extent of cheating and show that cheating is more prevalent under treatments that provide monetary incentives to students (versus no incentives or incentives only to teachers). We provide evidence suggesting that students may have learned to cheat, with the number of cheating students per classroom increasing over time under treatments that provide monetary incentives to students.

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  • César Martinelli & Susan W. Parker & Ana Cristina Pérez-Gea & Rodimiro Rodrigo, 2018. "Cheating and Incentives: Learning from a Policy Experiment," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 298-325, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:10:y:2018:i:1:p:298-325
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20150066

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Tang, Johnny Jiahao, 2020. "Individual heterogeneity and cultural attitudes in credence goods provision," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    2. Aksoy, Billur & Palma, Marco A., 2019. "The effects of scarcity on cheating and in-group favoritism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 100-117.
    3. Julio J. Elías & Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis, 2019. "Paying for Kidneys? A Randomized Survey and Choice Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(8), pages 2855-2888, August.
    4. Olaf Hübler & Lukas Menkhoff & Ulrich Schmidt, 2018. "Who Is Cheating? The Role of Attendants, Risk Aversion, and Affluence," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1736, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Olaf Hübler & Melanie Koch & Lukas Menkhoff & Ulrich Schmidt, 2020. "Corruption and Cheating: Evidence from Rural Thailand," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1917, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Gary Charness & Celia Blanco-Jimenez & Lara Ezquerra & Ismael Rodriguez-Lara, 2019. "Cheating, incentives, and money manipulation," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(1), pages 155-177, March.
    7. Alan, Sule & Ertac, Seda & Gumren, Mert, 2020. "Cheating and incentives in a performance context: Evidence from a field experiment on children," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 681-701.
    8. Sergio Longobardi & Patrizia Falzetti & Margherita Maria Pagliuca, 2018. "Quis custiodet ipsos custodes? How to detect and correct teacher cheating in Italian student data," Statistical Methods & Applications, Springer;Società Italiana di Statistica, vol. 27(3), pages 515-543, August.
    9. Flip Klijn & Mehdi Mdaghri Alaoui & Marc Vorsatz, 2020. "Academic Integrity in On-line Exams: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," Working Papers 1210, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    10. Bilen, Eren & Matros, Alexander, 2020. "Online Cheating Amid COVID-19," MPRA Paper 103185, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Billur Aksoy & Marco A. Palma, "undated". "The Effects of Scarcity on Cheating and In-Group Favoritism," Working Papers 20180918-001, Texas A&M University, Department of Economics.
    12. Olaf Hübler & Melanie Koch & Lukas Menkhoff & Ulrich Schmidt, 2019. "Cheating and Corruption: Evidence from a Household Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1826, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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