NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Unintended Consequences of Rewards for Student Attendance: Results from a Field Experiment in Indian Classrooms

Sujata Visaria, Rajeev Dehejia, Melody M. Chao, Anirban Mukhopadhyay

NBER Working Paper No. 22528
Issued in August 2016
NBER Program(s):Children, Development Economics, Economics of Education

In an experiment in non-formal schools in Indian slums, a reward scheme for attending a target number of school days increased average attendance when the scheme was in place, but had heterogeneous effects after it was removed. Among students with high baseline attendance, the incentive had no effect on attendance after it was discontinued, and test scores were unaffected. Among students with low baseline attendance, the incentive lowered post-incentive attendance, and test scores decreased. For these students, the incentive was also associated with lower interest in school material and lower optimism and confidence about their ability. This suggests incentives might have unintended long-term consequences for the very students they are designed to help the most.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22528

Published: Sujata Visaria & Rajeev Dehejia & Melody M. Chao & Anirban Mukhopadhyay, 2016. "Unintended consequences of rewards for student attendance: Results from a field experiment in Indian classrooms," Economics of Education Review, vol 54, pages 173-184. citation courtesy of

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