Bribing Kids to Try on Tests
Freakonomics Blog, June 26, 2012
We use direct financial incentives to motivate so many different activities in life. No one expects workers in a fast food restaurant to flip burgers for free. No one expects teachers to show up and teach without getting paid. But when it comes to kids in school, we think that the distant financial rewards they will earn years or decades later should be enough to motivate them, even though for most kids a month or two feels like an eternity.
To learn a little more about whether kids’ school effort responds to financial incentives, John List, Suzanne Neckermann, Sally Sadoff, and I carried out a series of field experiments we recently wrote up as a working paper. Sally Sadoff (whom you might remember from the Freakonomics movie as the woman who works tirelessly to help the students in Chicago Heights), talked about the research on Fox Business News.