NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Daan Van Soest

Tilburg University

E-Mail: d.p.vansoest@uvt.nl
Institutional Affiliation: Tilburg University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

September 2019Toward an Understanding of the Welfare Effects of Nudges: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Uganda
with Erwin Bulte, John A. List: w26286
Social scientists have recently explored how framing of gains and losses affects productivity. We conducted a field experiment in peri-urban Uganda, and compare output levels across 1000 workers over isomorphic tasks and incentives, framed as either losses or gains. We find that loss aversion can be leveraged to increase the productivity of labor. The estimated welfare costs of using the loss contract are quite modest – perhaps because the loss contract is viewed as a (soft) commitment device.
March 2014On the Role of Group Size in Tournaments: Theory and Evidence from Lab and Field Experiments
with John List, Jan Stoop, Haiwen Zhou: w20008
Both private and public organizations constantly grapple with incentive schemes to induce maximum effort from agents. We begin with a theoretical exploration of optimal contest design, focusing on the number of competitors. Our theory reveals a critical link between the distribution of luck and the number of contestants. We find that if there is considerable (little) mass on good draws, equilibrium effort is an increasing (decreasing) function of the number of contestants. Our first test of the theory implements a laboratory experiment, where important features of the theory can be exogenously imposed. We complement our lab experiment with a field experiment, where we rely on biological models complemented by economic models to inform us of the relevant theoretical predictions. In bo...
 
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