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Unintended Negative Consequences of Rewards for Student Attendance: Results from a Field Experiment in Indian Classrooms

Author

Listed:
  • Melody M. Chao

    () (Department of Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

  • Rajeev Dehejia

    () (Wagner School of Public Policy, New York University)

  • Anirban Mukhopadhyay

    (Department of Marketing, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

  • Sujata Visaria

    (Department of Economics, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
    Institute for Emerging Market Studies, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)

Abstract

In an experiment in non-formal schools in Indian slums, an incentive for attending a target number of school days increased average attendance when the incentive was in place, but had heterogeneous effects after it was removed. Among students with high baseline attendance, the post-incentive attendance returned to previous levels and test scores were unaffected. Among students with low baseline attendance, post-incentive attendance dropped even below previous levels, and test scores decreased. These students also reported lower interest in school material and lower expectations of themselves. Thus incentives might have unintended negative consequences in the long term for the very students they are most expected to help.

Suggested Citation

  • Melody M. Chao & Rajeev Dehejia & Anirban Mukhopadhyay & Sujata Visaria, 2015. "Unintended Negative Consequences of Rewards for Student Attendance: Results from a Field Experiment in Indian Classrooms," HKUST IEMS Working Paper Series 2015-22, HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies, revised Apr 2015.
  • Handle: RePEc:hku:wpaper:201522
    as

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    File URL: http://iems.ust.hk/assets/publications/working-papers-2015/iemswp2015-22.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2015
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrei Bremzen & Elena Khokhlova & Anton Suvorov & Jeroen van de Ven, 2015. "Bad News: An Experimental Study on the Informational Effects Of Rewards," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(1), pages 55-70, March.
    2. Muralidharan, Karthik & Sundararaman, Venkatesh, 2011. "Teacher opinions on performance pay: Evidence from India," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 394-403, June.
    3. Roland G. Fryer, 2011. "Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1755-1798.
    4. Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2011. "Teacher Performance Pay: Experimental Evidence from India," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 39-77.
    5. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2009. "The Effects of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1384-1414, September.
    6. Uri Gneezy & Stephan Meier & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2011. "When and Why Incentives (Don't) Work to Modify Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 191-210, Fall.
    7. Paredes, Ricardo & Ugarte, Gabriel, 2009. "Should Students Be Allowed to Miss?," MPRA Paper 15583, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. 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.
    9. Eric P. Bettinger, 2012. "Paying to Learn: The Effect of Financial Incentives on Elementary School Test Scores," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 686-698, August.
    10. James Berry, 2015. "Child Control in Education Decisions: An Evaluation of Targeted Incentives to Learn in India," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-1080.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Guryan, Jonathan & Kim, James S. & Park, Kyung H., 2016. "Motivation and incentives in education: Evidence from a summer reading experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 1-20.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    educational economics; incentives; attendance; motivation; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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