Absolute Versus Relative Performance Pay: Evidence from an Experiment Targeting Child Malnutrition in West Bengal

44 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2013

See all articles by Prakarsh Singh

Prakarsh Singh

Amherst College - Department of Economics

Sandip Mitra

Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi

Date Written: September 28, 2013

Abstract

We carry out a randomized controlled experiment in West Bengal, India to test three separate performance pay treatments in the public health sector. Performance is judged on improvements in child malnutrition. First, we exogenously change wages of government employed child care workers through a basic level of absolute incentives. The second treatment introduces high absolute incentives. Finally, we also test for the impact of basic relative incentives on child health. All treatments include supplying mothers with recipe books. Overall, the results suggest that high absolute incentives reduce severe malnutrition by about 6.3% with controls and 4.9% without controls over three months. Large increases in weight are observed in boys as opposed to girls and same religion mother-worker pairs tend to be more productive in improving weight. This suggests that taste-based preferences may play a role even when workers are incentivized.

Keywords: performance pay, child malnutrition, absolute and relative incentives

JEL Classification: M52, I12, I38, J38

Suggested Citation

Singh, Prakarsh and Mitra, Sandip, Absolute Versus Relative Performance Pay: Evidence from an Experiment Targeting Child Malnutrition in West Bengal (September 28, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2332896 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2332896

Prakarsh Singh (Contact Author)

Amherst College - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
United States
413-542-2271 (Phone)

Sandip Mitra

Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi

7, S.J.S. Sansanwal Marg
New Delhi
India

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