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Pro-social preferences and self-selection into the public health sector: evidence from economic experiments

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Abstract

There is growing interest in the role of pro-social motivation in public service delivery. In general, economists no longer question whether people have social preferences, but ask how and when such preferences will influence their economic and social decisions. Apart from revealing that individuals on average share and cooperate even when such actions lower their own material pay-off, economic experiments have documented substantial individual heterogeneity in the strength and structure of social preferences. In this paper we study the extent to which these differences are related to career choices, by testing whether preferences vary systematically between Tanzanian health worker students who prefer to work in the private health sector and those who prefer to work in the public health sector. Despite its important policy implications, this issue has received hardly any attention to date. By combining data from a questionnaire and two economic experiments, we find that students who prefer to work in the public health sector have stronger pro-social preferences than those who prefer to work in the private sector. We also show that the extent to which these students care about others can be conditional and linked to inequality aversion. A systematic selfselection of pro-socially motivated health workers into the public sector suggests that it is a good idea to have two sectors providing health services: this can ensure efficient matching of individuals and sectors by allowing employers in the two sectors to use different payment mechanisms tailored to attract and promote good performance from different types of health workers.

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  • Kolstad, Julie Riise & Lindkvist, Ida, 2010. "Pro-social preferences and self-selection into the public health sector: evidence from economic experiments," Working Papers in Economics 04/10, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2010_004
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    Cited by:

    1. Dietrichson, Jens, 2013. "Coordination Incentives, Performance Measurement and Resource Allocation in Public Sector Organizations," Working Papers 2013:26, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    2. Anthony Scott & Peter Sivey, 2017. "Motivation and Competition in Health Care," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2017n05, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    3. Galizzi, Matteo M. & Navarro-Martínez, Daniel, 2018. "On the external validity of social preference games: a systematic lab-field study," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84088, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Lagarde, Mylène & Blaauw, Duane, 2014. "Pro-social preferences and self-selection into jobs: Evidence from South African nurses," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 85229, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. J. Michelle Brock & Andreas Lange & Kenneth L. Leonard, 2016. "Generosity and Prosocial Behavior in Healthcare Provision: Evidence from the Laboratory and Field," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(1), pages 133-162.
    6. David Ong & Chun-Lei Yang, 2014. "Pro Bono Work and Trust in Expert Fields," CESifo Working Paper Series 4897, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    pro-social preferences; career choice; economic experiments; health workers;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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