NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Daily Needs, Income Targets and Labor Supply: Evidence from Kenya

Pascaline Dupas, Jonathan Robinson

NBER Working Paper No. 19264
Issued in August 2013
NBER Program(s):   DEV   LS

Many studies suggest that daily income earners behave as if they have daily income targets. Less work has examined the determinants of the targets themselves. Using data on labor supply, shocks, and self-reported cash needs from 257 bicycle taxi drivers in Western Kenya, we provide evidence that many individuals treat their daily cash need as the day's target. We conjecture that in a physically demanding job, workers may have an incentive to quit early and so set a personal rule of “earning enough for the day's need” as an internal commitment device to provide effort. This heuristic is more common among less educated workers and has substantial welfare costs: greater variance in hours worked is associated with worse health, and we estimate that workers would earn 5% more by working a set number of hours each day (more if their wage elasticity were positive).

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