August 17, 2005
Evolutionary Economics: Perverse Incentives - Incentives Can Reduce Good Behavior
Just when economists had us convinced....
Excerpted Abstract: Rewards or punishments (whether material or image-related) create doubt about the true motive for which good deeds are performed and this "overjustification effect" can induce a partial or even net crowding out of prosocial behavior by extrinsic incentives. In some settings, disclosing one’s generosity may backfire. Finally, we analyze the choice by public and private sponsors of incentive levels, their degree of confidentiality and the publicity given to agents’ behavior. Sponsor competition is shown to potentially reduce social welfare.
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