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Incentives, Selection and Productivity in Labor Markets: Evidence from Rural Malawi

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  • Raymond P. Guiteras
  • B. Kelsey Jack

Abstract

An observed positive relationship between compensation and productivity cannot distinguish between two channels: (1) an incentive effect and (2) worker selection. We use a simplified Becker-DeGroot-Marschak mechanism, which provides random variation in piece rates conditional on revealed reservation rates, to separately identify the two channels in the context of casual labor markets in rural Malawi. A higher piece rate increases output in our setting, but does not attract more productive workers. Among men, the average worker recruited at higher piece rates is actually less productive. Local labor market imperfections appear to undermine the worker sorting observed in well-functioning labor markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Raymond P. Guiteras & B. Kelsey Jack, 2014. "Incentives, Selection and Productivity in Labor Markets: Evidence from Rural Malawi," NBER Working Papers 19825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19825
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Emla Fitzsimons & Bansi Malde & Marcos Vera-Hernández, 2016. "Spillovers of Community-Based Health Interventions on Consumption Smoothing," Studies in Economics 1611, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    2. de Quidt, Jonathan, 2014. "Your loss is my gain: a recruitment experiment with framed incentives," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58208, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Heywood, John S. & Siebert, W. Stanley & Wei, Xiangdong, 2013. "The Consequences of a Piece Rate on Quantity and Quality: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 7660, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Fischer, Gregory & Berry, James & Guiteras, Raymond, 2012. "Eliciting and utilizing willingness to pay: evidence from field trials in Northern Ghana," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 47913, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Ibañez, Marcela & Rai, Ashok & Riener, Gerhard, 2015. "Sorting through affirmative action: Three field experiments in Colombia," DICE Discussion Papers 183, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    6. Günther Fink & B. Kelsey Jack & Felix Masiye, 2014. "Seasonal Credit Constraints and Agricultural Labor Supply: Evidence from Zambia," NBER Working Papers 20218, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. de Quidt, Jonathan, 2014. "Your loss is my gain: a recruitment experiment with framed incentives," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58208, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Emily Breza & Supreet Kaur & Yogita Shamdasani, 2016. "The Morale Effects of Pay Inequality," NBER Working Papers 22491, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Jonathan de Quidt, 2014. "Your Loss Is My Gain: A Recruitment Experiment With Framed Incentives," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 052, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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