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Development Discussion Paper
Do-gooders and go-getters: career incentives, selection, and performance in public service delivery
Nava Ashraf, Oriana Bandiera and Scott Lee July 2014
Paper No' EOPP 054:
Full Paper (pdf)

We study how career incentives affect who selects into public health jobs and, through selection, their performance while in service. We collaborate with the Government of Zambia to experimentally vary the salience of career vs. social benefits of a newly created health worker position when recruiting agents nationally. We follow the entire first cohort from application to performance in the field and measure impacts at every stage. We find that making career incentives salient attracts more qualified applicants with stronger career ambitions without displacing pro-social preferences, which are high in both treatments. Health workers attracted by career incentives are more effective at delivering health services and are equally likely to remain in their posts over the course of 18 months. Career incentives, far from selecting the 'wrong' types, attract talented workers who deliver health services effectively.