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Daily Needs, Income Targets and Labor Supply: Evidence from Kenya

  • Pascaline Dupas
  • Jonathan Robinson

Many studies suggest that daily income earners behave as if they have daily income targets. Less work has examined the determinants of the targets themselves. Using data on labor supply, shocks, and self-reported cash needs from 257 bicycle taxi drivers in Western Kenya, we provide evidence that many individuals treat their daily cash need as the day's target. We conjecture that in a physically demanding job, workers may have an incentive to quit early and so set a personal rule of "earning enough for the day's need" as an internal commitment device to provide effort. This heuristic is more common among less educated workers and has substantial welfare costs: greater variance in hours worked is associated with worse health, and we estimate that workers would earn 5% more by working a set number of hours each day (more if their wage elasticity were positive).

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19264.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19264
Note: DEV LS
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  11. Camerer, Colin & Babcock, Linda & Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard, 1996. "Labor Supply of New York City Cab Drivers: One Day At A time," Working Papers 960, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  12. Gerald S. Oettinger, 1999. "An Empirical Analysis of the Daily Labor Supply of Stadium Vendors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 360-392, April.
  13. Doran, Kirk, 2014. "Are long-term wage elasticities of labor supply more negative than short-term ones?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 208-210.
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