Does monetary punishment crowd out pro-social motivation? The case of hospital bed-blocking
We study whether the use of explicit monetary incentives might be counter-productive. In particular, we focus on the effect of fining owners of long-term care institutions who prolong length of stay at hospitals. We outline a simple theoretical model, based on motivational crowding theory, deriving the conditions for explicit monetary incentives to have potentially counterproductive effects. In the empirical part, we exploit a natural experiment involving changes in the catchments areas of two large Norwegian hospitals. We find that bed-blocking is reduced when transferring long-term care providers from a hospital using monetary fines to prevent bed-blocking to a hospital not relying on this incentive scheme, and vice versa. We interpret these results as examples of monetary incentives crowding out agents’ intrinsic motivation, leading to a reduction in effort.
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