Pro-social Motivations, Externalities and Incentives

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28 April 2021

This paper analyzes how pro-social motivations shape the relationship between incentives and inequality. I consider a principal who offers individual rewards to a group of agents to induce them to exert effort and to coordinate at least-cost. The agents value the payoffs of the other agents, and they are averse to inequality. My analysis highlights that pro-social motivations have an a priori ambiguous effect on inequality in the reward distribution. Despite this initial ambiguity, I show that the rewards are more unequal and lower when the agents have pro-social preferences. The model delivers empirical implications for intervention programs supporting the adoption of new health or agricultural technologies.