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

Author

Listed:
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Tomas Philipson, 1999. "External Treatment Effects and Program Implementation Bias," Working Papers 9929, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    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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