Conditional Cash Penalties in Education: Evidence from the Learnfare Experiment
Wisconsin's influential Learnfare initiative is a conditional cash penalty program that sanctions a family's welfare grant when covered teens fail to meet school attendance targets. In the presence of reference-dependent preferences, Learnfare provides uniquely powerful financial incentives for student performance. However, a 10-county random-assignment evaluation suggested that Learnfare had no sustained effects on school enrollment and attendance. This study evaluates the data from this randomized field experiment. In Milwaukee County, the Learnfare procedures were poorly implemented and the random-assignment process failed to produce balanced baseline traits. However, in the nine remaining counties, Learnfare increased school enrollment by 3.7 percent (effect size = 0.08) and attendance by 4.5 percent (effect size = 0.10). The hypothesis of a common treatment effect sustained throughout the six-semester study period could not be rejected. These effects were larger among subgroups at risk for dropping out of school (e.g., baseline dropouts, those over age for grade). For example, these heterogeneous treatment effects imply that Learnfare closed the enrollment gap between baseline dropouts and school attendees by 41 percent. These results suggest that well-designed financial incentives can be an effective mechanism for improving the school persistence of at-risk students at scale.
|Date of creation:||Jul 2009|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as Dee, Thomas S., 2011. "Conditional cash penalties in education: Evidence from the Learnfare experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 924-937, October.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979.
"Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk,"
Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
- Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
- Bas van der Klaauw & Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2006.
"The effect of financial rewards on students' achievement: Evidence from a randomized experiment,"
Artefactual Field Experiments
00078, The Field Experiments Website.
- 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.
- Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek & Bas van der Klaauw, 2004. "The e ect of financial rewards on students achievement: Evidence from a randomized experiment," HEW 0410002, EconWPA.
- Leuven, Edwin & Oosterbeek, Hessel & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2003. "The Effect of Financial Rewards on Students' Achievements: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 3921, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Camerer, Colin F. & Hogarth, Robin M., 1999.
"The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework,"
1059, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
- Camerer, Colin F & Hogarth, Robin M, 1999. "The Effects of Financial Incentives in Experiments: A Review and Capital-Labor-Production Framework," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 7-42, December.
- Alan B. Krueger, 1999.
"Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions,"
The Quarterly Journal of Economics,
Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 497-532.
- Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kremer, Michael R. & Miguel, Edward & Thornton, Rebecca, 2009.
"Incentives to Learn,"
3716457, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Kremer, Michael Robert & Miguel, Edward A. & Thorton, Rebecca L, 2004. "Incentives to Learn," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt9kc4p47q, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Kremer, Michael & Miguel, Edward & Thornton, Rebecca & Ozier, Owen, 2005. "Incentives to learn," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3546, The World Bank.
- Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer & Rebecca Thornton, 2004. "Incentives to learn," Natural Field Experiments 00289, The Field Experiments Website.
- Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel & Rebecca Thornton, 2004. "Incentives to Learn," NBER Working Papers 10971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David Card, 2000.
"Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems,"
NBER Working Papers
7769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-60, September.
- Angrist, Joshua & Lang, Daniel W. & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007.
"Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial,"
IZA Discussion Papers
3134, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Philip Oreopoulos & Daniel Lang & Joshua Angrist, 2009. "Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 136-63, January.
- Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2010. "Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials," NBER Working Papers 15898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Thomas S. Dee, 2001.
"Teachers, Race and Student Achievement in a Randomized Experiment,"
NBER Working Papers
8432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Thomas S. Dee, 2004. "Teachers, Race, and Student Achievement in a Randomized Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 195-210, February.
- Sudhanshu Handa & Benjamin Davis, 2006. "The Experience of Conditional Cash Transfers in Latin America and the Caribbean," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 24(5), pages 513-536, 09.
- Skoufias, Emmanuel & McClafferty, Bonnie, 2001.
"Is PROGRESA working?,"
FCND discussion papers
118, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
- Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 8769.
- Michael Wiseman, 1996. "State strategies for welfare reform: The Wisconsin story," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 515-546.
- Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2003. "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(3), pages 489-520.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15126. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.