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Tuition fees as a commitment device

Listed author(s):
  • Ketel, Nadine
  • Linde, Jona
  • Oosterbeek, Hessel
  • van der Klaauw, Bas

This paper reports on a field experiment testing for sunk-cost effects in an education setting. Students signing up for extra-curricular tutorial sessions randomly received a discount on the tuition fee. The sunk-cost effect predicts that students who receive larger discounts will attend fewer tutorial sessions. For the full sample, we find little support for this hypothesis, but we find a significant effect of sunk costs on attendance for the 45% of students in our sample who are categorized as sunk-cost prone based on hypothetical survey questions. For them higher tuition fees can serve as a commitment device to attend classes.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 9862.

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Date of creation: Mar 2014
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:9862
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  1. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2008. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Malaria Prevention Experiment," NBER Working Papers 14406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek & Joep Sonnemans & Bas van der Klaauw, 2011. "Incentives versus Sorting in Tournaments: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 637-658.
  3. Theo Offerman & Jan Potters, 2006. "Does Auctioning of Entry Licences Induce Collusion? An Experimental Study," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(3), pages 769-791.
  4. Hidalgo, Diana & Onofa, Mercedes & Oosterbeek, Hessel & Ponce, Juan, 2013. "Can provision of free school uniforms harm attendance? Evidence from Ecuador," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 43-51.
  5. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
  6. Daniel Friedman & Kai Pommerenke & Rajan Lukose & Garrett Milam & Bernardo Huberman, 2007. "Searching for the sunk cost fallacy," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(1), pages 79-104, March.
  7. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1249-1287, November.
  8. Nava Ashraf & James Berry & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2383-2413, December.
  9. Uri Gneezy & John A List, 2006. "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1365-1384, 09.
  10. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2010. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 1-45.
  11. Meyer, Donald J., 1993. "First price auctions with entry: An experimental investigation," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 107-122.
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