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The impact of monetary incentives for mayors to improve education: Quasi-experimental evidence from Brazil

Grant number: 18/01391-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2018
Effective date (End): December 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Economics
Principal researcher:Vladimir Pinheiro Ponczek
Grantee:Dimitri de Oliveira e Silva
Home Institution: Escola de Economia de São Paulo (EESP). Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


I propose to evaluate the impact of an incentive scheme in Brazil that offers monetary rewards for the mayor whose students attending schools of the municipal school system attain the best average performance in a national exam of schools (Prova Brasil). The incentive scheme is a rank-order tournament scheme where those who can compete for the prize are mayors holding office in municipalities that satisfy a set of criteria that makes the evaluation of the impact of the incentive scheme suitable for a regression discontinuity approach. In particular, mayors are eligible for the prize if they hold office in a municipality that has at least 300 students enrolled in fifth grade and 300 in nineth grade, at least 70% of the students of the municipality are attending a school of the municipal school system, and the municipality has at least 20,000 inhabitants. The empirical investigation that I propose will be guided by the theoretical findings in the incentive and political economy literature and by the findings that I intend to obtain by constructing a theoretical framework suitable for the present case. Some of the already existing findings show that incentives can improve the desired outcome but can also produce unintended consequences. In the present case, I argue that offering rewards for mayors can improve the performance of students attending schools administered by the local government but can also worsen the quality of other services that the local government is in charge of providing. This is theoretically conceivable because mayors use their effort/time for the provision of different public goods. I propose to test these possibilities too.

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