Teaching and Incentives: Substitutes or Complements?
Interventions to promote learning are often categorized into supply- and demand-side approaches. In a randomized experiment to promote learning about COVID-19 among Mozambican adults, we study the interaction between a supply and a demand intervention, respectively: 1) teaching, and 2) providing financial incentives to learners. In theory, teaching and learner-incentives may be substitutes (crowding out one another) or complements (enhancing one another). While experts surveyed in advance predicted that the two would be substitutes, we instead find they are complements. The combination of teaching and incentive treatments has a substantial effect on COVID-19 knowledge test scores, raising them by 0.5 standard deviations.
Faustino Lessitala provided top-notch leadership and field management. Patricia Freitag, Ryan McWay, and Maggie Barnard provided excellent research assistance. Julie Esch, Laura Kaminski, and Lauren Tingwall's grant management was world-class. We appreciate feedback from Hoyt Bleakley, Brian Jacob, Laston Manja, Kwasi Tabiri, and participants in Michigan's Health, History, Development, and Demography (H2D2) Seminar and the Conference on Experimental Insights from Behavioral Economics on COVID-19 (JHU-LSE). This work is supported by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab via the Innovation in Government Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (grant number IGI-1366), Innovations for Poverty Action via the Peace and Recovery Program at Yale University (grant number MIT0019-X9), the Michigan Institute for Teaching and Research in Economics via the Ulmer Fund (grant number G024289), and the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (award number T32AG000221). Our study protocols were approved by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) at the University of Michigan (Health Sciences and Social and Behavioral Sciences IRB, approval number HUM00113011) and the Mozambique Ministry of Health National Committee on Bioethics for Health (Portuguese acronym CNBS, reference number 302/CNBS/20). The study was submitted to the American Economic Association's RCT Registry on August 25, 2020, registration ID number AEARCTR-0005862. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.