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Personality Traits and Performance Contracts: Evidence from a Field Experiment among Maternity Care Providers in India

Publication Date: 
March 21, 2017

American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, 107(5): 506-510, 2017 (with Katherine Donato, Manoj Mohanan, Yulya Truskinovsky, and Marcos Vera-Hernández)

We study how agents respond to performance incentives according to key personality traits (conscientiousness and neuroticism) through a field experiment offering financial incentives for improving maternal and neonatal health outcomes to rural Indian doctors. More conscientious providers performed better – but improved less – under performance incentives.  The effect of the performance incentives was also smaller for providers with higher levels of neuroticism. Our results contribute to a growing body of empirical research on heterogeneous responses to incentives and have implications for worker selection.