The Israeli Childcare Experiment

Source: Journal of Legal Studies Published: September 1999

Source: Journal of Legal Studies
Published: September 1999

The Israeli Childcare Experiment

Circulated: October 18, 2019

Incentives don’t always change behaviors in the way we’d expect.

Background
In a study of day care centers in Israel, economists tried to help schools identify ways to reduce late pick-ups. When parents are tardy, the result is at least one teacher who must wait around for the parents to arrive.

Experiment
The economists conducted a study by announcing that any parent arriving more than ten minutes late would pay a $3 fine.

Outcome
After the fine was enacted, the number of late pickups promptly went up by 100%. As soon as parents had the option to pay a small fine and avoid the guilt of making a teacher wait, they took it en masse.

Take-away
This study suggests that effective methods of changing behavior should combine economic, moral, and social incentives.