Competitive versus Destructive Envy: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment

Ben D'Exelle, University of East Anglia

Social comparison can have a strong influence on individual effort. Inequality created by variation in effort could stimulate competition and hence increase effort, but it could also reduce effort where destructive peer reactions are expected. At the same time, taking into account the multidimensional character of effort, these effects might differ in the effort put into the quantity and the quality of the generated output. To investigate these effects, we use a real effort experiment with students in Uganda, in which we vary whether participants receive relative performance feedback and whether they have the option to lower the earnings of other participants through so-called 'money-burning'. We find that relative performance feedback increases the quality of the output and the earnings. However, when combined with money-burning it decreases the quantity but not the quality of the output.

About the speaker

Ben D'Exelle is a professor in behavioural and experimental development economics at the University of East Anglia. Most of his research can be located in the fields of behavioral and experimental economics and impact evaluation in low-income countries. The research themes he has pursued and publish on include: rural investment behaviour, gender, reproductive health, social networks and resource sharing, among others. He has conducted most of his fieldwork in Uganda, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Nicaragua.

Ben D'Exelle teaches micro-economics, econometrics and applied methods in impact evaluation at the post-graduate level and he co-direct the MSc Impact Evaluation for International Development. He is also affiliated to the Center for Behavioral and Experimental Social Sciences (CBESS). He is a member of the Behavioural and Experimental Development Economics research group at UEA.

Venue: 0.16/0.17

Date: 02 December 2019

Time: 12:00 - 13:00