Apparently cash incentives do not always work….in the sense of bringing about the desired result.
Excellent, so let us continue to study this question and use such cash incentives where they do work and not where they don\’t.
My suspicion (OK, call it what it is, prejudice) is that they do work in many fields where current society says they do not or should not.
In China, the business of paying people to queue has become routine at top hospitals. There, the market reforms of the last two decades have resulted in funding cuts for public hospitals and clinics, especially in rural areas. So patients from the countryside now journey to the major public hospitals in Beijing, creating long waits in registration halls. They queue overnight, sometimes for days, to get an appointment ticket to see a doctor.
The appointment tickets are a bargain – only 14 yuan (about £1.20) – but it isn\’t easy to get one. Rather than camp out for days and nights, some patients, desperate for an appointment, buy tickets from touts. The touts hire people to queue for appointment tickets and then resell them for hundreds of pounds – more than a typical peasant makes in months.
There is something distasteful about touting tickets to see a doctor. For one thing, the system rewards unsavoury middlemen rather than those who provide the care. Doctors could well ask why, if appointments are worth so much, most of the money should go to touts rather than to them, or to the hospitals. Economists might agree and advise hospitals to raise their prices. In fact, some Beijing hospitals have added special ticket windows, where the appointments are more expensive and the queues much shorter.
For example, why shouldn\’t there be a reasonable co-paymnet for seeing a doctor? As there is in various European medical systems but not in the NHS?
I\’ve no problem with hte idea that all markets all the time cash markets does not a perfect society make. But I do, as above, have a very strong feeling that proper study of this particular point would lead to more cash markets than we currently have.