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Unfair incentives: A behavioural note on sharecropping

Niels Kemper, Kristina Czura and Heiner Schumacher

The Economics of Transition, 2018, vol. 26, issue 2, 303-331

Abstract: We conducted a laboratory‐in‐the‐field experiment with real‐life tenants in Ethiopia to test the incentive effects of fixed wage, sharecropping, fixed rent, and ownership contracts. The experimental task resembles a common process in agricultural production. The sharecropping contract is a piece rate scheme framed as a profit‐sharing agreement. Sharecropping output was about 12 percent smaller than the fixed rent output. Surprisingly, it is statistically indistinguishable from the fixed wage output, despite substantial piece rates. This effect is driven by real‐life sharecroppers. Their sharecropping output was smaller than that of non‐sharecroppers, especially in a region where a controversial land reform took place. We argue that our subjects dislike sharecropping contracts because of the unfair profit sharing and the disputed allocation of land. Fairness concerns, therefore, may be another impediment to efficiency under the sharecropping contract.

Date: 2018
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