Service delivery versus moonlighting: Applying empirics from Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda

This BSG working paper explores the negative impact that moonlighting – the practice of supplementing one’s income by exerting efforts elsewhere – has on the delivery of public services to local communities. It looks in particular at the significance of poor service delivery within education and healthcare services and how this can be improved by changing the incentives behind moonlighting.

In Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda, it is common for professionals such as doctors and teachers, who provide public goods to their communities, to moonlight elsewhere to supplement their low salaries. These moonlighting arrangements are often poorly monitored at best, and in many cases, not at all. As a result, there is an individual resource allocation problem and a lack of public goods provision, from which communities suffer.

Authors Kiell Hausken and Mthuli Ncube use survey data on service delivery in education and healthcare from Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda to highlight deficient and poor service delivery. They use this to create an empirical model that captures how an individual actor allocates his or her resources between service delivery and moonlighting, and the effect this has on production efficiency.

They find that one of the reasons for poor service delivery by teachers and clinicians is the delay in their salary payments, encouraging them to seek supplementary income elsewhere. This has an adverse effect on the quality of service they provide, with the data from all four countries showing how teachers spend far less than the designated time teaching students, and clinicians spend very little time with patients per day.

The policy implication of the paper is that moonlighting should be reduced by improving the quality of monitoring and paying service-providers on time, in order to align incentives accordingly. In turn, this will help increase the efficiency of delivering public services to the population at the local level.