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The Effect of Financial Rewards on Students' Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

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  • Edwin Leuven
  • Hessel Oosterbeek
  • Bas van der Klaauw

Abstract

This paper reports on a randomized field experiment in which first-year university students could earn financial rewards for passing all first-year requirements within one year. Financial incentives turn out to have positive effects on achievement of high-ability students, whereas they have a negative impact on achievement of low-ability students. After three years these effects have increased, suggesting dynamic spillovers. The negative effects for less-able students are consistent with results from psychology and behavioral economics showing that external rewards may be detrimental for intrinsic motivation. (JEL: I21, I22, J24) (c) 2010 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek & Bas van der Klaauw, 2010. "The Effect of Financial Rewards on Students' Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(6), pages 1243-1265, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:8:y:2010:i:6:p:1243-1265
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    1. Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek & Bas van der Klaauw, 2010. "The Effect of Financial Rewards on Students' Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(6), pages 1243-1265, December.
    2. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for Private Schooling in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1535-1558, December.
    3. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2002. "The Effect of High School Matriculation Awards: Evidence from Randomized Trials," NBER Working Papers 9389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel & Rebecca Thornton, 2009. "Incentives to Learn," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 437-456, August.
    5. Tomas Philipson, 1999. "External Treatment Effects and Program Implementation Bias," Working Papers 9929, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    6. Erica Field, 2006. "Educational Debt Burden and Career Choice: Evidence from a Financial Aid Experiment at NYU Law School," NBER Working Papers 12282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1999. "General Equilibrium Cost Benefit Analysis of Education and Tax Policies," NBER Working Papers 6881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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