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What Policies Increase Prosocial Behavior? An Experiment with Referees at the Journal of Public Economics

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  • Raj Chetty
  • Emmanuel Saez
  • Laszlo Sandor

Abstract

We evaluate policies to increase prosocial behavior using a field experiment with 1,500 referees at the Journal of Public Economics. We randomly assign referees to four groups: a control group with a six-week deadline to submit a referee report; a group with a four-week deadline; a cash incentive group rewarded with $100 for meeting the four-week deadline; and a social incentive group in which referees were told that their turnaround times would be publicly posted. We obtain four sets of results. First, shorter deadlines reduce the time referees take to submit reports substantially. Second, cash incentives significantly improve speed, especially in the week before the deadline. Cash payments do not crowd out intrinsic motivation: after the cash treatment ends, referees who received cash incentives are no slower than those in the four-week deadline group. Third, social incentives have smaller but significant effects on review times and are especially effective among tenured professors, who are less sensitive to deadlines and cash incentives. Fourth, all the treatments have little or no effect on rates of agreement to review, quality of reports, or review times at other journals. We conclude that small changes in journals' policies could substantially expedite peer review at little cost. More generally, price incentives, nudges, and social pressure are effective and complementary methods of increasing prosocial behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez & Laszlo Sandor, 2014. "What Policies Increase Prosocial Behavior? An Experiment with Referees at the Journal of Public Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 169-188, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:28:y:2014:i:3:p:169-88
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.28.3.169
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo, 2000. "A Fine is a Price," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-17, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dwenger, Nadja & Kleven, Henrik & Rasul, Imran & Rincke, Johannes, 2014. "Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivations for Tax Compliance. Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Germany," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100389, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Kondylis,Florence & Stein,Mattea, 2018. "The speed of justice," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8372, The World Bank.
    3. Pierre C. Boyer & Nadja Dwenger & Johannes Rincke, 2014. "Do Taxes Crowd Out Intrinsic Motivation? Field-Experimental Evidence from Germany," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2014-23, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    4. Doerrenberg, Philipp, 2015. "Does the use of tax revenue matter for tax compliance behavior?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 30-34.
    5. Yew-Kwang NG, 2016. "Extending Economic Analysis to Analyze Policy Issues More Broadly," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 1609, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
    6. Altmann, Steffen & Traxler, Christian & Weinschenk, Philipp, 2017. "Deadlines and Cognitive Limitations," IZA Discussion Papers 11129, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Ashraf, Nava & Bandiera, Oriana & Jack, B. Kelsey, 2014. "No margin, no mission? A field experiment on incentives for public service delivery," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 1-17.
    8. Fuhai Hong & Tanjim Hossain & John A. List & Migiwa Tanaka, 2018. "Testing The Theory Of Multitasking: Evidence From A Natural Field Experiment In Chinese Factories," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(2), pages 511-536, May.
    9. David Card & Stefano DellaVigna, 2017. "What do Editors Maximize? Evidence from Four Leading Economics Journals," NBER Working Papers 23282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Boyer, Pierre C. & Dwenger, Nadja & Rincke, Johannes, 2016. "Do norms on contribution behavior affect intrinsic motivation? Field-experimental evidence from Germany," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 140-153.
    11. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:5:p:827-839 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:spr:scient:v:113:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-017-2244-y is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Kiri, Bralind & Lacetera, Nicola & Zirulia, Lorenzo, 2018. "Above a swamp: A theory of high-quality scientific production," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 827-839.
    14. David Card & Stefano DellaVigna, 2012. "Revealed Preferences for Journals: Evidence from Page Limits," NBER Working Papers 18663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Simone Righi & Károly Takács, 2017. "The miracle of peer review and development in science: an agent-based model," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 113(1), pages 587-607, October.
    16. repec:spr:scient:v:115:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-018-2664-3 is not listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics

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