NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Craig Landry

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Working Papers and Chapters

September 2011Is There a 'Hidden Cost of Control' in Naturally-Occurring Markets? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment
with Andreas Lange, John A. List, Michael K. Price, Nicholas G. Rupp: w17472
Several recent laboratory experiments have shown that the use of explicit incentives—such as conditional rewards and punishment—entail considerable “hidden” costs. The costs are hidden in the sense that they escape our attention if our reasoning is based on the assumption that people are exclusively self-interested. This study represents a first attempt to explore whether, and to what extent, such considerations affect equilibrium outcomes in the field. Using data gathered from nearly 3000 households, we find little support for the negative consequences of control in naturally-occurring labor markets. In fact, even though we find evidence that workers are reciprocal, we find that worker effort is maximized when we use conditional—not unconditional—rewards to incent workers.
The Hidden Benefits of Control: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment
with Andreas Lange, John A. List, Michael K. Price, Nicholas G. Rupp: w17473
An important dialogue between theorists and experimentalists over the past few decades has raised the study of the interaction of psychological and economic incentives from academic curiosity to a bona fide academic field. One recent area of study within this genre that has sparked interest and debate revolves around the “hidden costs” of conditional incentives. This study overlays randomization on a naturally-occurring environment in a series of temporally-linked field experiments to advance our understanding of the economics of charity and test if such “costs” exist in the field. This approach permits us to examine why people initially give to charities, and what factors keep them committed to the cause. Several key findings emerge. First, there are hidden benefits of conditional in...
September 2008Is a Donor in Hand Better than Two in the Bush? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment
with Andreas Lange, John A. List, Michael K. Price, Nicholas G. Rupp: w14319
This study develops theory and conducts an experiment to provide an understanding of why people initially give to charities, why they remain committed to the cause, and what factors attenuate these influences. Using an experimental design that links donations across distinct treatments separated in time, we present several insights. For example, we find that previous donors are more likely to give, and contribute more, than donors asked to contribute for the first time. Yet, how these previous donors were acquired is critical: agents who are initially attracted by signals of charitable quality transmitted via an economic mechanism are much more likely to continue giving than agents who were initially attracted by non-mechanism factors.
September 2005Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment
with Andreas Lange, John A. List, Michael K. Price, Nicholas G. Rupp: w11611
This study develops theory and uses a door-to-door fundraising field experiment to explore the economics of charity. We approached nearly 5000 households, randomly divided into four experimental treatments, to shed light on key issues on the demand side of charitable fundraising. Empirical results are in line with our theory: in gross terms, our lottery treatments raised considerably more money than our voluntary contributions treatments. Interestingly, we find that a one standard deviation increase in female solicitor physical attractiveness is similar to that of the lottery incentive¡ªthe magnitude of the estimated difference in gifts is roughly equivalent to the treatment effect of moving from our theoretically most attractive approach (lotteries) to our least attractive approach (volun...

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