Incentives, information and malnutrition: Evidence from an experiment in India

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Research Article

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European Economic Review


This study provides one of the first pieces of evidence comparing the effectiveness of different performance pay contracts among caregivers to improve child health. We carry out a cluster randomized controlled trial in urban slums of Kolkata, India covering 209 childcare centers to test three separate performance pay treatments in addition to providing information on the demand-side. We promise low or high absolute performance incentives to public sector caregivers where each bonus is based on improvements in health of 3–6 year old children under their care. We also test for the impact of relative incentives where the bonus depends upon a worker's performance relative to her peers. All mothers in the treatment arms are also provided nutritional information. High absolute incentives to workers combined with nutritional information to mothers works to reduce severe malnutrition by 5 percentage points over three months. Relative incentives and low absolute incentives show no significant improvements in child health on average.

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