Empirical Micro Seminar

Extrinsic Incentives, Social Acceptability, and Image Motivation: Evidence from a Large Scale Field Experiment with Nigerian Midwives

Marcos Vera Hernandez (UCL)
Extrinsic Incentives, Social Acceptability, and Image Motivation: Evidence from a Large Scale Field Experiment with Nigerian Midwives
May 30, 2017 | 12:15 - 13:30 | SOF-G21

There is limited field evidence on why extrinsic incentives help or not to incentivize a prosocial activity. Combining lab-in-the-field behavioural games with a large scale experiment in Nigeria that provided midwives with retention incentives (monetary, non-monetary, or their combination), we test two of the leading hypotheses of why incentives work or backfire: change in social acceptability of the actions and crowding out of image motivation. We find that monetary incentives improved midwife retention, and they made it less socially acceptable to quit their job early. On the contrary, non-monetary incentives did not improve midwife retention and we find evidence that they crowded out image motivation. Our results contrast with previous literature that find that monetary incentives have detrimental effects on other type of prosocial activities. We argue that a crucial difference is that our prosocial activity is a pre-existing paid job and hence monetary aspects are already salient even in the absence of the incentives that we introduce.