Study finds male, female responses to performance pay similar across contexts, programs

Past studies have raised the possibility that performance pay—programs that give employees incentives to be productive by offering rewards for achieving performance objectives—may widen the gender earnings gap because women do not respond to performance incentives as strongly as men for psychological or cultural reasons. A new study evaluated this notion by aggregating evidence from experiments on performance incentives from around the world. The study found that the difference in response between genders is close to zero and does not differ much across studies, while the average effect of incentives on productivity is positive. This suggests that incentives underlying performance pay in the workplace boost performance for men and women alike across a variety of contexts and for a variety of program designs.

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