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Cheating and Incentives: Learning from a Policy Experiment


  • Cesar Martinelli

    () (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University)

  • Susan W. Parker

    () (Center for Research and Teaching in Economics, Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE))

  • Ana Cristina PeÌ rez-Gea

    () (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM))

  • Rodimiro Rodrigo

    () (SecretariÌ a de Hacienda y CreÌ dito PuÌ blico, MeÌ xico)


We use a database generated by a policy intervention that incentivized learning as measured by standardized exams to investigate empirically the relationship between cheating by students and cash incentives to students and teachers. We adapt methods from the education measurement literature to calculate the extent of cheating, and show that cheating is more prevalent under treatments that provide monetary incentives to students (versus no incentives, or incentives only to teachers), both in the sense of a larger number of cheating students per classroom and in the sense of more cheating relations per classroom. We also provide evidence of learning to cheat, with both the number of cheating students per classroom and the average number of cheating relations increasing over the years under treatments that provide monetary incentives to students.

Suggested Citation

  • Cesar Martinelli & Susan W. Parker & Ana Cristina PeÌ rez-Gea & Rodimiro Rodrigo, 2015. "Cheating and Incentives: Learning from a Policy Experiment," Working Papers 1058, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:gms:wpaper:1058

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sergio Longobardi & Patrizia Falzetti & Margherita Maria Pagliuca, 2018. "Quis custiodet ipsos custodes? How to detect and correct teacher cheating in Italian student data," Statistical Methods & Applications, Springer;Società Italiana di Statistica, vol. 27(3), pages 515-543, August.
    2. Bilen, Eren & Matros, Alexander, 2020. "Online Cheating Amid COVID-19," MPRA Paper 103185, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Tang, Johnny Jiahao, 2020. "Individual heterogeneity and cultural attitudes in credence goods provision," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    4. Aksoy, Billur & Palma, Marco A., 2019. "The effects of scarcity on cheating and in-group favoritism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 165(C), pages 100-117.
    5. Gary Charness & Celia Blanco-Jimenez & Lara Ezquerra & Ismael Rodriguez-Lara, 2019. "Cheating, incentives, and money manipulation," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 22(1), pages 155-177, March.
    6. Alan, Sule & Ertac, Seda & Gumren, Mert, 2020. "Cheating and incentives in a performance context: Evidence from a field experiment on children," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 681-701.
    7. Julio J. Elías & Nicola Lacetera & Mario Macis, 2019. "Paying for Kidneys? A Randomized Survey and Choice Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(8), pages 2855-2888, August.
    8. Flip Klijn & Mehdi Mdaghri Alaoui & Marc Vorsatz, 2020. "Academic Integrity in On-line Exams: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," Working Papers 1210, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    9. Billur Aksoy & Marco A. Palma, "undated". "The Effects of Scarcity on Cheating and In-Group Favoritism," Working Papers 20180918-001, Texas A&M University, Department of Economics.
    10. Olaf Hübler & Melanie Koch & Lukas Menkhoff & Ulrich Schmidt, 2019. "Cheating and Corruption: Evidence from a Household Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1826, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    11. Olaf Hübler & Lukas Menkhoff & Ulrich Schmidt, 2018. "Who Is Cheating? The Role of Attendants, Risk Aversion, and Affluence," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1736, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    12. Olaf Hübler & Melanie Koch & Lukas Menkhoff & Ulrich Schmidt, 2020. "Corruption and Cheating: Evidence from Rural Thailand," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1917, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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