When student incentives do not work: Evidence from a field experiment in Malawi

2023-02-01 Publications

Photo by Van Tay Media on Unsplash

James Berry, Hyuncheol Bryant Kim and Hyuk Harry Son study how the structure of tournament incentive schemes in education can influence the level and distribution of student outcomes. Through a field experiment among upper-primary students in Malawi, they evaluate two scholarship programs: a Population-based scholarship that rewarded overall top performers on an exam and a Bin-based scholarship that rewarded the top performers within smaller groups of students with similar baseline scores. This study finds that the Population-based scholarship decreased test scores and motivation to study, especially for those least likely to win. By contrast, they find no evidence for test score impacts among those in the Bin-based scholarship program.

Hyuncheol Bryant Kim
Associate Professor, Department of Economics
Associate Professor, Division of Public Policy
Hyuncheol Bryant Kim is an applied empirical micro-economist focusing on causal impacts of…
James Berry
University of Delaware, United States of America
Hyuk Harry Son
Utrecht University, The Netherlands Cornell University, United States of America

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