Recruiting for the State: The Selection Effect of Career Incentives on Performance
We study how career and social incentives affect those who self-select into public health jobs and, through selection, their performance while in service. We collaborate with the Government of Zambia to experimentally vary the salience of career benefits ("doctors") vs. social benefits ("do-gooders") across districts when recruiting agents for newly-created health worker jobs. We follow the entire first cohort from application to the field and measure impacts at every stage. We find that career incentives attract more qualified applicants, without displacing pro-social motivation, which is high in both treatments, or creating gender imbalances. Selection panels, however, are relatively more likely to choose men when career incentives are made salient. Over the course of one year, health workers in the career incentives treatment are more effective at delivering health services than those in the social incentives treatment, and are equally likely to remain in their posts.
Keywords: Motivation and Incentives;
Ashraf, Nava, Oriana Bandiera, and Scott S. Lee. "Recruiting for the State: The Selection Effect of Career Incentives on Performance." Working Paper, January 2014.