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Social Comparison, Rewards and Incentives to Learn: A Randomized Control Trial in Uganda (Center for Institutional Studies Research Seminar)

Speaker: Dagmara Celik Katreniak (Research Fellow at the Center for Institutional Studies, International Research Laboratory for Institutional Analysis of Economic Reforms)

April 16, ThursdayMyasnitskaya 24, building 3, room 424, 17.30. 

Substantial progress has been made in improving access to schooling in developing countries. Nevertheless, higher enrollment needs to be accompanied by advances in education quality in order to avoid stagnation or, at worst, quality downturn. A large number of interventions have been implemented with the aim of lowering absenteeism and improving students’ performance. One possible channel is the provision of feedback about the subject’s position in the group. Subjects also seem to improve if evaluated in groups and/or if provided with incentives, such as financial and reputational rewards. This paper contributes to the discussion in five aspects by implementing two types of social comparative feedback regimes - within and across-class group comparisons and two incentive regimes. First, it studies the effects of comparative feedback on students’ group performance without further incentivization. Second, it helps to understand the value added of financial and reputational rewards introduced into a social comparison framework. Third, it provides us with further evidence on gender differences in responding to incentives. Fourth, it contemplates the effects of incentives on additional outcomes, such as happiness and stress. Finally, the paper contributes to the scarce literature on the provision of incentives in developing country.. Disaggregation of the treatment interaction reveals that both girls and boys react similarly to the interactions of social comparison treatment with rewards, the channels are, however, different. While girls’ improvement is driven mainly by the comparative feedback, boys react to rewards only with no added value of feedback provision. The results are heterogeneous also with respect to students’ initial ability distribution – mostly students above median respond positively.


Working paper: download