Motivating Bureaucrats With Non-Monetary Incentives When State Capacity Is Weak: Evidence From Large-Scale Field Experiments in Peru
98 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2019
Date Written: December 22, 2018
We study how non-monetary incentives, motivated by recent advances in behavioral economics, affect civil servant performance in a context where state capacity is weak. We collaborated with a government agency in Peru to experimentally vary the content of text messages targeted to civil servants in charge of a school maintenance program. These messages incorporate behavioral insights in dimensions related to information provision, social norms, and weak forms of monitoring and auditing. We find that these messages are a very cost-effective strategy to enforce compliance with national policies among civil servants. We further study the role of social norms and the salience of social benefits in a follow-up experiment and explore the external validity of our original results by implementing a related experiment with civil servants from a different national program. The findings of these new experiments support our original results and provide additional insights regarding the context in which these incentives may work. Our results highlight the importance of carefully designed non-monetary incentives as a tool to improve civil servant performance when the state lacks institutional mechanisms to enforce compliance.
Keywords: state capacity, non-monetary incentives, civil servants
JEL Classification: C93, D73, O15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation