IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Prosocial behavior and incentives: Evidence from field experiments in rural Mexico and Tanzania

  • Kerr, John
  • Vardhan, Mamta
  • Jindal, Rohit

Incentive-based schemes for natural resource conservation are based on the premise that offering payments to groups of land users will motivate them to organize collectively to provide environmental services. In contrast, research from behavioral economics shows that introducing monetary incentives can undermine collective action that is motivated by social norms. In such a case payment could have perverse impacts. In view of this dichotomy, we conducted choice and field experiments in rural Mexico and Tanzania to test the response of prosocial behavior to incentives. The field experiments involved voluntary participation in real communal tasks under different incentive structures. Findings suggest that payments help raise participation where people are otherwise uninterested, but that participation in communal tasks can be high irrespective of the incentive if social norms favoring participation are present. In Tanzania, high individual payments do not undermine participation although they appear to reduce people's satisfaction from the task relative to when there is no payment. In Mexico, group payments made through village authorities yield lower participation where people distrust leaders.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800911004605
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

Volume (Year): 73 (2012)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 220-227

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:73:y:2012:i:c:p:220-227
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.10.031
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Ernst Fehr, 2003. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," Microeconomics 0305010, EconWPA.
  2. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2000. "Pay Enough or Don't Pay at All," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 791-810.
  3. Alix-Garcia, Jennifer & de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth, 2003. "A tale of two communities: explaining deforestation in Mexico," CUDARE Working Paper Series 964, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy.
  4. 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.
  5. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  6. Jayson L. Lusk & F. Bailey Norwood, 2009. "An Inferred Valuation Method," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 85(3), pages 500-514.
  7. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  8. Glenn Harrison & Morten Lau & Elisabet Rutstrom, 2004. "Estimating risk attitudes in denmark: A field experiment," Artefactual Field Experiments 00059, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. Carl Mellström & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Crowding Out in Blood Donation: Was Titmuss Right?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(4), pages 845-863, 06.
  10. Vollan, Bjørn, 2008. "Socio-ecological explanations for crowding-out effects from economic field experiments in southern Africa," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 560-573, November.
  11. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  12. Kosoy, Nicolas & Martinez-Tuna, Miguel & Muradian, Roldan & Martinez-Alier, Joan, 2007. "Payments for environmental services in watersheds: Insights from a comparative study of three cases in Central America," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 446-455, March.
  13. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2009. "The Experimental Approach to Development Economics," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 151-178, 05.
  14. Frey, Bruno S & Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 1997. "The Cost of Price Incentives: An Empirical Analysis of Motivation Crowding-Out," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 746-55, September.
  15. Vatn, Arild, 2009. "Cooperative behavior and institutions," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 188-196, January.
  16. Cardenas, Juan Camilo & Stranlund, John & Willis, Cleve, 2000. "Local Environmental Control and Institutional Crowding-Out," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(10), pages 1719-1733, October.
  17. Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 1999. "Collective action as a social exchange," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 341-369, July.
  18. Wunder, Sven & Engel, Stefanie & Pagiola, Stefano, 2008. "Taking stock: A comparative analysis of payments for environmental services programs in developed and developing countries," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(4), pages 834-852, May.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:73:y:2012:i:c:p:220-227. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.