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What Policies Increase Prosocial Behavior? An Experiment with Referees at the Journal of Public Economics

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  • Raj Chetty
  • Emmanuel Saez
  • László Sándor

Abstract

We evaluate policies to increase prosocial behavior using a field experiment with 1,500 referees at the Journal of Public Economics. We randomly assign referees to four groups: a control group with a six week deadline to submit a referee report, a group with a four week deadline, a cash incentive group rewarded with $100 for meeting the four week deadline, and a social incentive group in which referees were told that their turnaround times would be publicly posted. We obtain four sets of results. First, shorter deadlines reduce the time referees take to submit reports substantially. Second, cash incentives significantly improve speed, especially in the week before the deadline. Cash payments do not crowd out intrinsic motivation: after the cash treatment ends, referees who received cash incentives are no slower than those in the four-week deadline group. Third, social incentives have smaller but significant effects on review times and are especially effective among tenured professors, who are less sensitive to deadlines and cash incentives. Fourth, all the treatments have little or no effect on agreement rates, quality of reports, or review times at other journals. We conclude that small changes in journals' policies could substantially expedite peer review at little cost. More generally, price incentives, nudges, and social pressure are effective and complementary methods of increasing prosocial behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez & László Sándor, 2014. "What Policies Increase Prosocial Behavior? An Experiment with Referees at the Journal of Public Economics," NBER Working Papers 20290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20290
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    Cited by:

    1. Dwenger, Nadja & Kleven, Henrik & Rasul, Imran & Rincke, Johannes, 2014. "Extrinsic vs Intrinsic Motivations for Tax Compliance. Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Germany," VfS Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100389, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    2. Frakes, Michael D. & Wasserman, Melissa F., 2020. "Procrastination at the Patent Office?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
    3. Bessho, Shun-ichiro & Hayashi, Masayoshi, 2011. "Labor supply response and preferences specification: Estimates for prime-age males in Japan," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 398-411, October.
    4. Doerrenberg, Philipp, 2015. "Does the use of tax revenue matter for tax compliance behavior?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 30-34.
    5. Shafik Hebous, 2011. "The Effects Of Discretionary Fiscal Policy On Macroeconomic Aggregates: A Reappraisal," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(4), pages 674-707, September.
    6. Florence Kondylis & Mattea Stein, 2018. "The Speed of Justice," Working Papers halshs-01735025, HAL.
    7. Fuhai Hong & Tanjim Hossain & John A. List & Migiwa Tanaka, 2018. "Testing The Theory Of Multitasking: Evidence From A Natural Field Experiment In Chinese Factories," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 59(2), pages 511-536, May.
    8. David Card & Stefano DellaVigna, 2017. "What do Editors Maximize? Evidence from Four Leading Economics Journals," NBER Working Papers 23282, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Simone Righi & Károly Takács, 2017. "The miracle of peer review and development in science: an agent-based model," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 113(1), pages 587-607, October.
    10. David Card & Stefano DellaVigna, 2012. "Revealed Preferences for Journals: Evidence from Page Limits," NBER Working Papers 18663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Vivian M Nguyen & Neal R Haddaway & Lee F G Gutowsky & Alexander D M Wilson & Austin J Gallagher & Michael R Donaldson & Neil Hammerschlag & Steven J Cooke, 2015. "How Long Is Too Long in Contemporary Peer Review? Perspectives from Authors Publishing in Conservation Biology Journals," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 10(8), pages 1-20, August.
    12. Pierre C. Boyer & Nadja Dwenger & Johannes Rincke, 2014. "Do Taxes Crowd Out Intrinsic Motivation? Field-Experimental Evidence from Germany," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2014-23, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
    13. Bittschi, Benjamin & Dwenger, Nadja & Rincke, Johannes, 2021. "Water the flowers you want to grow? Evidence on private recognition and donor loyalty," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 131(C).
    14. Ashraf, Nava & Bandiera, Oriana & Jack, B. Kelsey, 2014. "No margin, no mission? A field experiment on incentives for public service delivery," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 120(C), pages 1-17.
    15. David Card & Stefano DellaVigna, 2020. "What Do Editors Maximize? Evidence from Four Economics Journals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 102(1), pages 195-217, March.
    16. Steffen Altmann & Christian Traxler & Philipp Weinschenk, 2017. "Deadlines and Cognitive Limitations," CESifo Working Paper Series 6761, CESifo.
    17. Perez-Truglia, Ricardo & Troiano, Ugo, 2018. "Shaming tax delinquents," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 120-137.
    18. Boyer, Pierre C. & Dwenger, Nadja & Rincke, Johannes, 2016. "Do norms on contribution behavior affect intrinsic motivation? Field-experimental evidence from Germany," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C), pages 140-153.
    19. Kiri, Bralind & Lacetera, Nicola & Zirulia, Lorenzo, 2018. "Above a swamp: A theory of high-quality scientific production," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 827-839.
    20. Christine Laudenbach & Jenny Pirschel & Stephan Siegel, 2018. "Personal Communication in a Fintech World: Evidence from Loan Payments," CESifo Working Paper Series 7295, CESifo.
    21. Sergio Copiello, 2018. "On the money value of peer review," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 115(1), pages 613-620, April.
    22. Yew-Kwang NG, 2016. "Extending Economic Analysis to Analyze Policy Issues More Broadly," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 1609, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
    23. Bianchi, Federico & Grimaldo, Francisco & Squazzoni, Flaminio, 2019. "The F3-index. Valuing reviewers for scholarly journals," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 78-86.
    24. Bodea, Cristina & Higashijima, Masaaki, 2017. "Central Bank Independence and Fiscal Policy: Can the Central Bank Restrain Deficit Spending?," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 47-70, January.
    25. Monica Aniela Zaharie & Marco Seeber, 2018. "Are non-monetary rewards effective in attracting peer reviewers? A natural experiment," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 117(3), pages 1587-1609, December.

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    JEL classification:

    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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