Marcos Vera-Hernandes, University College London

"Monetary Incentives and Image Motivation: Evidence from a Large-Scale Experiment with Nigerian Midwives"


We test the relevance of image motivation in prosocial jobs through a large-scale experiment involving midwives deployed to needy areas. We randomize incentives to encourage midwife retention and measure midwives' image motivation, and social norms regarding length of service, using lab-in-the-field games. Our motivating behavioral model predicts incentives improve retention, changing the motivational composition of retained midwives by worsening the motivational signal of remaining. Our experimental findings show that incentives improve retention but may backfire as the most highly image-motivated midwives are more likely to leave earlier. Incentives also lengthen the minimum socially acceptable length of service.

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