Lunch Seminar

Pol Campos-Mercade (Lund University)

  • Threshold incentives and academic performance

  • Many rewards are tied to reaching a performance threshold. We study how such threshold incentives affect short and long run performance. In a field experiment, we incentivize students to reach a specific GPA. Our design allows us to estimate heterogeneous treatment effects across the entire GPA distribution. To examine the mechanisms, we link academic performance with comprehensive survey data collected before and after the intervention. We find that incentives increase performance only for students whose baseline GPA is just below the threshold. After we remove the incentives, treated students perform worse. The survey data indicate that treated students who fail to reach the threshold lose confidence in their ability, which reduces their post-intervention performance. We find large gender differences: the positive short-run effects are driven by males and the negative long-run effects are driven by females. Our results suggest that threshold incentives can have unexpected negative consequences when self-confidence is relevant for performance.

  • Home page: Pol Campos-Mercade
  • Location:
    Biz lounge
  • Address:
    Ekonominaukio 1
Daniel Hauser

Aalto University

daniel.hauser at

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