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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article draws a general picture of the differences between the metaphors of carrots and sticks. It discusses incentive effects (in principle, a $100 carrot creates the same incentives as a $100 stick, but there are exceptions); transaction costs (carrots are paid upon compliance, sticks upon violation, therefore sticks have lower transaction costs if the majority complies); risks (probabilistic carrots create risks for compliers, probabilistic sticks for violators); wealth and budget constraints (the maximum carrot depends on the principal's wealth, the maximum stick on the agent's wealth, but sticks can have a multiplication effect); distributive effects (carrots may overcompensate, sticks may undercompensate; individualizing sanctions changes the distributive effect of carrots but not of sticks); activity level effects caused by these distributive effects; the principal's incentives to behave opportunistically; and the agent's incentives to self-report. The article also discusses special types (precompensated, annullable, combined, intra-group financed, reversible, strict liability carrots and sticks) and two extensions (political risks, behavioural effects).

Keywords: incentive effects, transaction costs, risks, wealth constraints, budget constraints, distributive effects, activity level effects

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