Governance Initiative: Evaluations

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The following is the list of projects funded by the Governance Initiative.

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Evaluations Funded During the Twelfth Round (Spring 2017):

Designing Performance Indicators for Career Incentives
Researchers: Elisabeth Sadoulet, Alain de Janvry, Qiong Zhang,
Location: China
Type of Project: Full study
We consider a case of career incentives given to local civil servants hired by the Chinese Government to serve the broad needs of the population. In collaboration with the regional officials and a provincial research center focusing on local governance, we propose to test alternative performance evaluation schemes, ranging from the status quo of delegation to local officials with total discretion, to a transparent performance score based on easily observable high signal-to-noise ratio indicators. We will also test two intermediate schemes, a transparent scoring formula including a larger set but of lower signal-to-noise ratio indicators, and giving discretion to the local officials to decide on the weighting scheme but not the components of the performance score. The objective is to test whether the levels of precision, transparency, and delegation in assigning performance scores improve the power of incentives, and to detect potential trade-offs in performance along non-incentivized dimensions due to multi-tasking.

When Castes Collide: Does Competition Mediate Contact?
Researchers: Matt Lowe
Location: India
Type of Project: Full study
52% of upper castes in India continue to practice “untouchability.” These group relations persist despite castes living in close proximity (albeit in segregated villages). Further integration may be a natural policy response, but little is known about whether this would work, and about how the type of cross-caste interaction might matter. This field experiment tests both the effects of integration, and whether effects are weakened (strengthened) by competitive (collaborative) incentives. I use cricket tournaments to integrate men from all castes, with men randomly assigned to teams (giving variation in cross-caste exposure). The teams are then randomly assigned to Individual vs. Team Pay (competitive vs. collaborative incentives). Mid-experiment results show that (a) incentives affect group cohesion, with players on Individual Pay teams wanting to interact less with team-mates; and (b) incentives affect post-tournament behavior, with Team Pay stimulating greater cross-caste trade and trust in others. These early results suggest promise that incentives can be used to mould social relations. This proposal would complete the experiment with a larger sample.

Monitoring Publicly Funded Health Service Delivery through Private Agents: A Pilot Study with the Government of Rajasthan, India
ResearchersPascaline Dupas, Radhika Jain
Location: India
Type of Project: Pilot
Low quality care and leakages are known to plague the Indian public health system. Although the public sector is largely free (representing a large subsidy), poor households either forego care or pay high costs to go to the private sector, exposing themselves to considerable risk. In response, the Government of Rajasthan (GoR) has launched a program to cover the costs of secondary and tertiary care at empaneled private hospitals for low-income households, effectively outsourcing health care delivery to private agents. Private sector participation has expanded rapidly, comprising 70% of tertiary care 14 months into the program. However, the GoR is facing a new set of governance challenges in monitoring and appropriately incentivizing these private agents. Exploratory audits we conducted in January-February 2017 suggest partial capture of the subsidy by private hospitals, as well as over-reporting and over-provision. Our proposal for a pilot GI study is to conduct systematic audits that will enable us to estimate the rates, types, and incidence of fraud and leakage in the program. The findings will be used to design and test interventions that better align principal and agent objectives in three ways: top down monitoring of facilities, bottom up measures to improve patient information, and changes in reimbursement rates to meet private sector participation constraints. Identifying ways to effectively deliver health care through the private sector has the potential to increase the returns to scarce public health rupees.

The Elasticity of Tax Compliance: Evidence from a Low-Capacity State
Researchers: Jonathan Weigel, Otis Reid, Pablo Balane
Location: Democratic Republic of Congo
Type of Project: Full study
Compliance is a key challenge for low-capacity states seeking to expand their tax base. A first order question that remains largely unanswered in the developing world context is: What is the elasticity of tax compliance with respect to the marginal tax rate? We will generate experimental evidence on this question by randomly distributing coupons that lower certain households’ property tax liability in the context of a tax collection campaign in the city of Kananga, Democratic Republic of Congo. The effects of the program on bribery will also be examined.

Establishing Responsive Linkages between Politicians and Voters
Researchers: Miriam Golden, Saad Gulzar, Luke Sonnet
Location: Pakistan
Type of Project: Full study
We partner with provincial legislators in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan to test whether integrated voice response (IVR) technology can springboard communication between politicians and voters and thereby improve accountability, responsiveness, and development. IVR allows politicians to record messages in their own voice and deliver them via robocalls; citizens can then respond to questions posed by pressing keys on their phones. The first stage of the experiment randomizes (at the household level) politician robocalls and elicitation of voter preferences. Stage two provides aggregated citizen preferences to the politicians, and randomizes (at the polling station level) a responsive call from the politician that is either generic or specific to the feedback received. We examine if either or both of these stages improve citizen trust in and engagement with government, political efficacy, support for the politician, and ability to sanction poorly performing representatives. The experiment offers legislators a direct channel to voters, bypassing traditional local elites and reducing the need for corruption and vote-buying. 

How Income Growth Shapes the State: A Village-Level Randomized Controlled Trial on Unconditional Cash Transfers, Community Engagement, and Local Politician Responses in Kenya
Researchers: Michael Walker, Kate Orkin
Location: Kenya
Type of Project: Pilot
Unconditional cash transfers to poor households are one of the most important innovations in poverty reduction in the last quarter-century. We build on two studies which randomly allocate the rollout of an unconditional cash transfer program, run by GiveDirectly, a foreign NGO, across 1,041 villages in Western Kenya, with variation in the proximity of rollout to the August 2017 election. We propose collection of community-level data on public goods provision, engagement with citizens by politicians, and citizen civic participation, combined with consolidation of administrative data on these issues. We study how political processes and politicians respond to changes in village wealth, and, because transfers are not state provided, we can conduct a clean test of whether, as modernization theory predicts, increases in income increase civic participation and levels of social capital. In addition, the large scale of the cash transfer program offers a unique opportunity to study politician responses.  

Politician Entry, Selection, and Performance in Sierra Leone
ResearchersKatherine Casey, Rachel Glennerster, Anna Schrimpf
Location: Sierra Leone
Type of Project: Full study
This project explores the relationship between regional party strongholds, where competition in the general election is weak and generates little accountability pressure, and the poor performance of elected officials. In such areas, the competition of import occurs at the primary stage, and internal party selection processes thus directly determine the characteristics and performance of elected representatives. In much of the developing world, these processes are opaque, controlled by elites, and likely hampered by information constraints. We propose to evaluate whether direct vote primaries, which broaden participation in the selection process to all card-carrying party members, and party primary conventions, which feature informative debates between aspirants, facilitate the election of more competent and accountable leaders. 

Evaluations Funded During the Eleventh Round (Fall 2016):

Age, Organization, and Accountability: Evidence from the DRC
Researchers: Nathan Nunn, James Robinson, Sara Lowes, Eduardo Montero
Location: Democratic Republic of Congo
Type of Project: Full study
This project explores the extent to which age sets, a traditional social structure in many African societies, can be exploited to improve local oversight, governance, and the provision of public goods. Age sets are initiation rituals that create cohesive groups of men of approximately the same age. A consequence is that the younger age sets in a village, because of their cohesion and allegiance to each other, provide a check on the balance of the village elite, including the chief, who belongs to a different and older age set. We are interested in whether programs that provide public goods are better managed by the village elite when age sets are present. Researchers are also interested in better understanding whether public goods provision can be improved if programs are adapted to account for the presence of age sets in a village.

Plugging the Leaky Bucket: Generating Experimental Evidence to Support Indonesia's Social Protection Reforms
Researchers: Rema Hanna, Ben Olken, Abhijit Banerjee, Joe Amick, Elan Satriawan, Sudarno Sumarto
Location: Indonesia
Type of Project: Full study
The Government of Indonesia (GoI) is embarking on a radical shift in Raskin, Indonesia’s largest targeted social assistance program, moving from in-kind transfers run by the government to a novel delivery system: restricted electronic vouchers that can be redeemed at any registered private sector retailer. The key reason for this reform is to reduce the extensive leakages and corruption that occur during the current pubic distribution process. Our previous research has shown that poor households only receive approximately one-third of their subsidy, and the GoI believes this problem can be alleviated by changing the structure of the bureaucracy’s delivery mechanism so that private sector agents, rather than government officials, are the ones handling the last-mile of service delivery. Yet, outsourcing creates its own new set of governance challenges in terms of how the government structures and then monitors its program. We are working with the GoI to design three experiments to test interventions intended to strengthen the transition to vouchers and private sector agents: a) strengthening the supply side, to ensure the elimination of private monopolies and ensuring high quality service, b) providing a tool for monitoring fraud, and c) ensuring that beneficiaries can navigate the technological and bureaucratic hurdles of the new e-voucher system. In this proposal, we request funds for the first experiment, to determine how the government can recruit a network of retailers to ensure sufficient high quality service, and eliminate the monopoly power that could lead to leakages in the new privatized system.

Political Capital and Performance of Politicians
Researchers: Yasir Khan, Saad Gulzar
Location: Pakistan
Type of Project: Full study
We propose to study if politicians improve performance in office through investment in political capital. We randomly vary three channels of investment; training, peer learning and mentorship. We also propose to study if peer learning takes place through social utility when peers are competitors.

Two Approaches to Community Development
Researchers: Katherine Casey, Rachel Glennerster, Edward Miguel, Maarten Voors, Erwin Bulte
Location: Sierra Leone
Type of Project: Full study
Decades of unaccountable leadership, conflict and underdevelopment have limited the reach of the state into rural Sierra Leone and left communities with a dearth of public services. This project explores two distinct mechanisms to bridge the gap between communities and the government. The first is an evaluation of the long run effects of a participatory community driven development (CDD) program, which devolved financial and implementation control over public services to communities themselves, accompanied by intensive social facilitation. The second assesses a low cost technocratic alternative that identifies and supports high competence community members to take better advantage of development programs offered by the government. It leverages local talent, addresses information barriers, and augments existing managerial capital with basic training in project management. A third component elicits expert beliefs about the efficacy of these two approaches, assesses their forecast accuracy, and evaluates whether beliefs change in response to new information.

Participatory Development and Social Preferences: Experimental Evidence from Bangaldesh
Researchers: Selene Ghisolfi, Serena Cocciolo
Location: Bangladesh
Type of Project: Full study
Since the 1990s, Community Driven Development (CDD) has become an increasingly common approach for development assistance. This has led the academic literature to assess the extent to which CDD programs can affect social norms and behaviors in benefiting communities. One fundamental challenge in this evaluation consists in the difficulties of observing and measuring social preferences. An increasing number of studies rely on lab-in-the-field experiments in order to test whether participatory development enhances participation, trust and social values in receiving communities. The existing evidence is mixed, calling for further research on this topic, which has relevant policy implications on the potential long run impact of participatory governance. We will contribute to this debate by providing novel evidence on the impact of a CDD program on two dimensions which, to the best of our knowledge, have not been previously addressed by the existing studies: (i) fairness norms on equity and equality of redistribution; (ii) citizens' preferences over participatory decision-making.

Evaluations Funded During the Tenth Round (Spring 2016):

Agricultural Electricty Subsidy Reform and Power Leakage in Rajasthan
Researchers: Nick Ryan, Anant Sudarshan
Location: India
Type of Project: Pilot
In many Indian states, a quarter or a half of the power pumped into the grid disappears, and the other part is sold at prices far below cost. These implicit and explicit electricity subsidies are meant as a lifeline to farmers, allowing the spread of irrigation using electric pumps to extract groundwater. Instead, they have locked rural India into a destructive cycle of groundwater depletion and bad power supply. Researchers will collect data on the nature of power leakages and design an alternate subsidy program, which will transfer electricity subsidies as a lump-sum amount, instead of through low, distortionary electricity prices. A planned experiment with the Rajasthan power distribution companies will measure the effects of this subsidy reform on leakages, energy consumption, and revenue.

Citizen Demand for Corruption: Evidence from Roadway Tolls in the D.R. Congo
Researchers: Otis Reid, Jonathan Weigel
Location: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Type of Project: Full study
This study examines the determinants of petty corruption in the DRC. In pilot data, 42 percent of motorcycle taxi drivers reported paying less than the official rate at tolls. To explain this high rate of non-compliance, we randomly offer motorcycle taxi drivers one of three incentives to obtain an official receipt at the toll, or a control condition . Relative to an official toll of 2000FC (US$2.20), the incentives are: a 1000FC-2500FC payment to the driver, a 2000FC donation to a local health NGO, or a 2000FC donation to the government, earmarked for health. The first treatment induces drivers to either pay the official amount or demand a lower bribe price. The latter two treatments compare the responsiveness of tax-payer behavior to differences in the perceived effectiveness of the recipient of tax payments. We will cross-randomize with an audit treatment to compare the effectiveness of citizen-side interventions with bureaucrat interventions.

Can Smart Technology Systems Improve Direct Benefit Transfer Performance and Increase Participation? Evidence from MGNREGA in India
Researchers: Rohini Pande, Charity Troyer-Moore, Eric Dodge, Yusuf Neggers
Location: India
Type of Project: Full study
The implementation of social protection programs remains a challenge in developing countries, often to the particular detriment of the most vulnerable intended beneficiaries. We will investigate the potential of a new internet- and mobile-based management and monitoring platform, developed in direct collaboration with the Indian Ministry of Rural Development, to improve the administration of a large government welfare scheme. A randomized control trial across multiple states will be conducted in which we provide the platform to different levels of the bureaucratic hierarchy responsible for program administration. The study will determine the extent to which heightening officials' performance incentives versus lowering their costs of information acquisition is effective, and whether complementarities between the two exist, in reducing payment delays and subsequently improving program uptake. We will additionally examine how impacts are mediated by bureaucrats’ own personality traits.

Government Mobile Salary Payments in Afghanistan
Researchers: Michael Callen, Tarek Ghani, Josh Blumenstock
Location: Afghanistan 
Type of Project: Full study 
Governments must pay their employees for states to function. Frequent delays and leakage of salary payments can undermine government effectiveness. These problems are severe in Afghanistan. Mobile Salary Payments (MSPs)—a system enabling employees to receive their salaries directly via mobile money—present a potential solution. At scale, MSPs can also grow the mobile money ecosystem and promote financial inclusion. We propose a randomized evaluation of MSPs with the Ministry of Education for a sample of approximately 200,000 teachers spanning 340 of the 396 districts in Afghanistan. We also propose to evaluate an additional Call Detail Record (CDR)-based attendance monitoring system that will complement the MSPs.

Testing Legislator Responsiveness to Citizens and Firms in the Vietnamese National Assembly: A Field Experiment
Researchers: Edmund Malesky, Anh Le, Jason Todd 
Location: Vietnam 
Type of Project: Full study 
Our project aims to establish whether targeted provision of constituent preferences increases the responsiveness of legislators. Using a randomized evaluation, we assign delegates in the Vietnamese National Assembly (VNA) to one of three groups: (1) those briefed on the opinions of citizens within their province; (2) those presented with the preferences of local firms; and (3) those receiving no informational treatment whatsoever. Following these midsummer briefings, each legislator will receive an email from an artificial constituent exhorting him or her to speak in the upcoming autumn legislative debate. Responsiveness will be measured via (1) replies to “constituent” emails, (2) speaking rates on the floor of the VNA, (3) the rates at which delegates cite or otherwise use the briefing materials, and (4) citation counts. All necessary information is publicly available, the cooperation has been obtained, and power simulations indicate that an effect should be detectable.

E-Governance, Land Administration, and Public Service Delivery in Bangladesh
Researchers: Sebastian Galiani, Srinivasan Vasudevan 
Location: Bangladesh 
Type of Project: Pilot 
Our project seeks to evaluate the impact of a program by the Government of Bangladesh to deliver certain land-related services electronically. The technological intervention proposes to reduce bureaucratic discretion and enable greater monitoring. Our main outcomes of interest are levels and quality of service delivery and the incidence of corruption in land administration.

Evaluations Funded During the Ninth Round (Fall 2015):

Disconnected and Uninformed: Dissecting and Dismantling India's Gender Gap in Political Participation
Researchers: Soledad Prillaman
Location: India
Timeline: 2015-2016
Type of Project: Full study
Given the persistent gender gap in political participation in India despite several decades of targeted policy interventions, I propose to evaluate a new mechanism aimed at increasing women’s political participation. The proposed RCT – which draws upon significant pilot work – evaluates (1) the role of political information and exposure and (2) integration in social networks in mobilizing women politically and reducing the gender gap in political participation. Through a gender and politics training intervention with the NGO PRADAN, women will receive information about the political system and their rights and entitlements within this system and will be directly exposed to existing political institutions, with the aim of reducing informational barriers to political participation. The RCT further tests the necessity of social networks for women’s political participation and the ability for the gender and politics training to activate existing social networks and further generate political engagement.

(De)centralized Pricing for Public Services: Evidence from Tanzania
Researchers: Florian Blum
Location: Tanzania
Timeline: 2016-2017
Type of Project: Full study
When private providers of publicly subsidized services have superior information about production and demand conditions, effective service delivery requires redistributing rents to providers. Yet, allocating excessive resources to providers reduces the surplus available for consumers, making regulation of market power necessary. We examine optimal price-cap regulation in the context of publicly subsidized animal vaccination sales that generate private pay-offs for veterinarians in Tanzania. As part of a large-scale chicken vaccination campaign we randomly assign veterinarians to two groups in order to estimate the effect of price-cap regulation on equilibrium quantities, prices and distribution. In the control group, modelled after the status quo, veterinarians are free to independently set prices and collect payment for their vaccination services. As providers enjoy significant market power, this group measures the unregulated market outcome. In the treatment group, veterinarians’ market power is constrained by strictly enforced price-caps. We combine the estimates from the intervention and a model based on sufficient statistics in order to (i) evaluate the optimality of the imposed price-cap regime and (ii) estimate the amount of rents that have to be allocated to agents to maximize consumer surplus.

Can Devolving the Police Increase the State's Capacity to Provide Legal Protection?
Researchers: Jasper Cooper
Location: Papua New Guinea
Timeline: 2015-2017
Type of Project: Full study
How should policing powers be structured to maximize the state's capacity to deliver legal protections to its citizens? When the state's reach is limited, those few interactions citizens have with police are often marked by corruption, absenteeism and abuse, contributing to dissatisfaction and distrust. These citizens sometimes rely on informal security providers-­‐such as chiefs, families and mobs-­‐who may not deliver justice fairly. Through a randomized controlled trial in Papua New Guinea, this study will evaluate the Community Auxiliary Police (CAP), a model of policing that attempts to extend state capacity to remote areas by devolving policing powers to carefully selected community members. The study assigns 2,800 individuals in 70 village clusters to either have or not have a CAP officer recruited in their village. Previous exploratory work funded by J-­‐PAL secured the full support of key implementing partners. The pilot will implement randomization, conduct baseline surveying and design panel measurement.

A Market-Equilibrium Approach to Vote-Buying
Researchers: Chris Blattman, Horacio Larreguy, Benjamin Marx, Otis Reid
Location: Uganda
Timeline: 2015-2016
Type of Project: Full study
Vote-buying remains a major impediment to democracy in low-income countries. We propose to evaluate a campaign against vote-buying targeting both the supply and the demand side of the market for votes, ahead of the 2016 election in Uganda. Our experiment will be a randomized saturation design varying the fraction of villages treated at the constituency level. This design will allow us to provide the first estimates of the spillover and local general equilibrium effects of a campaign of this kind and recover estimates for how anti-vote buying campaigns affect not only the incidence of vote buying, but also politician and party behavior.

Income Tax Evasion and Optimal Enforcement Policies: Evidence from Third Party Consumption Data and a Field Experiment in Pakistan
Researchers: Michael Best
Location: Pakistan
Timeline: 2015-2016
Type of Project: Pilot
Tax evasion is not just a problem in the developing world; however, lower GDP has a stronger association with the propensity of working in a shadow economy. The Federal Bureau of Revenue is responsible for the formulation and administration of fiscal policies including the levy and collection of federal taxes. Recognizing the problem of tax evasion, a separate wing was set up under the FBR for ‘Broadening the Tax Base’ (BTB) in Pakistan. This project aims to work closely with the BTB Programme Team in order to carry out a field study of tax evasion and come up with certain policy recommendations in order to assist the team with their goal of increasing the income tax base in the country.

When Do Media Stations Support Electoral Accountability?
Researchers: Horacio Larreguy, John Marshall
Location: Mexico
Timeline: 2016-2017
Type of Project: Full study
The importance of an informed electorate for electoral accountability is widely recognized. However, while a large literature has focused on voter access to media news sources, little is known empirically about the incentives for media stations to provide voters with indicators of their incumbent party’s performance in office. This project seeks to explain the low supply of incumbent performance information in Mexico using a two-period clustered design exploiting differential treatment intensity within media market clusters. We first identify the extent to which search costs affect whether radio stations and newspapers report the results of independent audit reports detailing mayoral malfeasance in office. We then identify how the effects of providing media outlets with information varies with media market competition and proximity to elections. The results will thus shed light on an essential but understudied condition required for voters to be able to hold governments accountable for their performance in office.

Information Provision and Participatory Budgeting: Mohalla Sabhas in Delhi
Researchers: Stefano Fiorin, Aprajit Mahajan, Shehar Mittal
Location: India
Timeline: 2015-2016
Type of Project: Pilot
The Delhi Government plans to introduce a devolutionary scheme to create extremely localized decision making bodies called Mohalla Sabhas (MS). MS will have considerable allocative as well as oversight powers over local spending. In principle, citizens can propose local public good projects, vote to allocate funds for implementation and authorize funding to contractors upon the successful completion of chosen projects. We seek pilot funding to lay the groundwork for an experimental intervention aimed at answering three related questions. First, how can the state increase citizen participation in MS, particularly of those belonging to disadvantaged groups? Second, how do informational interventions around the budgeting process affect the projects chosen? Finally, can participatory budgeting improve the quality of life for residents by allowing them to choose policies better aligned with their preferences?

Lighting Up Bihar: Electrification to Sustain Economic Growth
Researchers: Robin Burgess, Michael Greenstone, Nicholas Ryan, Anant Sudarshan
Location: India
Timeline: 2015-2017
Type of Project: Full study
Power supply, in many developing countries, is stuck in a cycle of non-payment and unreliable service. Customers do not pay because supply is poor, and the state-run utilities do not upgrade supply because, even if some customers did pay in full, the utility would go bankrupt supplying their neighbors at the same time. In partnership with the distribution utility in the state of Bihar in India, this project experimentally evaluates a group-level incentive designed to solve this collective action problem by coordinating improvements in local payments and supply. We study an incentive scheme wherein the government utility links hours of power supply in each neighborhood to aggregate payment rates from that area, so that higher-paying groups are guaranteed to earn more reliable supply. In addition, our project seeks to provide experimental evidence on the relationship between electricity supply and small business creation and household welfare.

Evaluations Funded During the Eighth Round (Spring 2015):

Citizen Empowerment and Social Pensions in Delhi
Researchers: Sarika Ringwala
Location: India
Timeline: 2015
Type of Project: Full study
Ensuring the well-being of particularly vulnerable groups in society remains an important priority and challenge for all governments, especially in developing countries. Oftentimes, even when welfare schemes are available, they are not taken up by those who could benefit from them most. In India, widows and abandoned women living in poverty are a particularly disadvantaged group. While there are national and state-level noncontributory pension schemes to assist these women, evidence suggests that the majority of eligible women do not obtain their pension entitlements. I propose to do research in the Indian state of Delhi to understand barriers citizens face in accessing social pensions and to evaluate the welfare impact these pensions have once obtained. This research can contribute to broader academic discourse regarding public service delivery, female empowerment, and the effectiveness of unconditional cash transfers to improve well-being.

Fixing Broken Windows: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Buenos Aires
Researchers: Laura Trucco
Location: Argentina
Timeline: 2015-2016
Type of Project: Full study
Citizens’ participation is widely regarded to be an important determinant of government representativeness and effectiveness (World Development Report 2004). A significant challenge for effective government provision is the low level of citizen participation, especially among poor and underserved populations. In this project, I investigate how government work feeds back into participation. In particular, I focus on citizens' complaints about the public space (street, sidewalks, streetlights, etc.). The hypothesis is that government work in the public space, particularly the one addressing complaints, stimulates further participation via two channels: increased perception of government responsiveness, and increased expectations about government work. I intend to test these hypotheses through a pilot intervention in collaboration with the Government of the City of Buenos Aires.

Texting Bad Politicians Out of Office
Researchers: Siddharth George, Yusuf Neggers, Sarika Ringwala
Location: India
Timeline: 2015
Type of Project: Pilot
We propose a project exploiting the existing capability of our partner organization, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in India, to target election-related text messages to large portions of the Indian population. We plan to run a large-scale SMS-based experiment in the week prior to the November 2015 state legislative assembly elections in the state of Bihar. The experiment will contain multiple treatment arms to allow us to separately identify the effects on voting behavior of: (i) a simple reminder, (ii) increased information about candidate characteristics, (iii) and a statement meant to support coordination on newly received information. Our findings will help improve our understanding of the relatively high persistence of seemingly low-quality candidates in India.

Career Concerns and Pro-Sociality in Political Selection: Evidence from Village Elections in Pakistan
Researchers: Saad Gulzar, Yasir Khan
Location: Pakistan
Timeline: 2015
Type of Project: Full study
What motivates people to seek political office? We design and evaluate an experiment to study how non-elite prospective politicians can be motivated to seek political office by priming them on career or pro-social motivation from entering politics, reducing the cost of filing for candidacy, and providing a signal on individual-level electability. We interview the universe of candidates in 210 villages and study the between village differences in candidate characteristics, and voting behavior.

Ruling (by) the Airwaves: The Effect of Radio Programming on Attitudes toward Government in South Sudan
Researchers: Nina McMurry, Chad Hazlett
Location: South Sudan
Timeline: 2015
Type of Project: Full study
Radio provides governmental and non-governmental organizations with the means to cheaply communicate with large populations. Moreover, in some countries – and South Sudan in particular – listening to the radio remains a primary form of media consumption for a large portion of the country, especially in rural areas that are difficult to reach by other means. If popular radio programs have the ability to influence knowledge, attitudes, or behavior, they could therefore provide an indispensable tool for shaping how people perceive and interact with the state, particularly in new states and other transitional contexts. The key question then is whether radio programs can indeed shape politically relevant attitudes, knowledge, or behavior in meaningful ways. The goal of this pilot project is to strengthen the design of a planned experiment that will allow us to answer this question. The experiment will use a randomized-encouragement design to examine the impact of Sawa Shabab, a radio drama for youth in South Sudan, funded by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and produced locally by Free Voice South Sudan.

Improving the performance of the College Graduate Village Officials Program through Increased Citizen Participation
Researchers: Elisabeth Sadoulet, Alain de Janvry
Location: China
Timeline: 2015-2016
Type of Project: Pilot
The Chinese government introduced in 2006 the CGVO (Selecting College Graduates to Work as Village Officials) program that will have placed, by the end of 2015, college graduates in 400,000 rural villages as assistants to the elected village chairperson or to the appointed village party secretary. We plan to collaborate with the Social Policy Research Center in running a field experiment to improve the impact of this program on the quality of governance and on villager participation to governance. The pilot phase will consist in conducting case studies and extending the analysis of the rollout of the program to design randomized encouragements at the level of the CGVO, the village authorities, and the villagers. The RCT will be piloted before submission of a full proposal.

Improving Public Procurement: Field Experiments in Chile
Researchers: Dina Pomeranz, Ben Olken, Stephan Litschig
Location: Chile
Timeline: 2015-2018
Type of Project: Full study (also funded in Round 8 as a pilot)
Procurement is one of the largest categories of government expenditure, accounting for about 12% of GDP on average in OECD countries. While much attention has been paid to how contracts are awarded, a key understudied issue in procurement is the fact that contracts are often renegotiated ex-post, with comparatively little oversight. This project investigates the relative importance of the ex-ante vs. ex-post scrutiny of public performance. Through a randomized intervention designed jointly with the Chilean audit and public procurement authorities, official letters from the audit agency are sent to randomly chosen public entities in 2015 informing them they have been selected for a program that either a) involves audits of the ex-ante procurement phase of contracts or b) involves audits of the execution of procured contracts. Both treatment types, as well as and control entities, will be audited about a year later. This will allow us to examine how the anticipation of ex-ante and ex-post scrutiny changes the procurement process, as well as the execution of new and pre-existing contracts. This project represents a groundbreaking collaboration between academia and government institutions in charge of both procurement and auditing in Chile.

Evaluations Funded During the Seventh Round (Fall 2014):

Nudging Good Politicians
Researchers: Nico Ravanilla
Location: Philippines
Timeline: 2015-2016
Type of Project: Pilot
This study evaluates a policy intervention that screens-in and selectively incentivizes good politicians. Using a randomized controlled trial (RCT), I show that a leadership training workshop in which aspiring candidates are given incentives conditional on workshop performance nudges competent and honest ones to stand for and win office.

Election Officer Identity and Voter Behavior
Researchers: Yusuf Neggers
Location: India
Timeline: 2014-2015
Type of Project: Pilot
Upholding election integrity is especially difficult in the developing world, where administrative capacity and institutional strength tend to be weaker. While advances in monitoring and voting technologies have been shown to improve the functioning of elections, the potential importance of the remaining interactions between government officials and voters on election day is not as well understood. Leveraging an existing policy in the Indian state of Bihar in which state employees are randomly assigned to manage polling stations on election day, the first stage of this project identified significant shifts in vote shares toward the political parties traditionally associated with the religious and caste identities of election officers. I next propose to employ officer and voter surveys with experimental modules to determine whether these impacts are primarily driven by: i) explicit malfeasance, ii) biased behavior in discretionary duties, or iii) identity priming of voters. The extent to which behavioral characteristics of voters mediate these effects will additionally be examined.

Improving Public Procurement: Field Experiments In Chile
Researchers: Stephan Litschig, Ben Olken, Dina Pomeranz
Location: Chile
Timeline: 2014-2015
Type of Project: Pilot
This project investigates a number of avenues for improving the efficacy of public procurement in Chile. Interventions are grouped into three categories addressing different sources of inefficiency in public procurement: 1) the impacts of different auction design choices on auction efficacy; 2) approaches to improving contract execution ex-post and the potential spillovers to ex-ante procurement; and 3) reducing barriers to entry into public procurement to increase competition.In the first set of interventions on auction rules, we remind a randomly-selected set of procurement officers, through training sessions and electronic alerts, to use certain types of procurement methods for purchasing goods and services, and certain types of criteria for evaluating bids. In the second set of interventions, we randomly inform procurement officers, through electronic alerts, that the execution of certain contracts will be monitored, and in some treatments also suggest that they specify conditions for early contract termination. For the third set of interventions, we randomly provide some suppliers with support in terms of information, training and coaching to facilitate entry and successful participation in the bidding process, thus increasing competition with the goal of improving outcomes for the government. This specific proposal covers a pilot phase for interventions in all these areas, which based on the results of the pilot, will be refined for a subsequent large-scale impact evaluation.

What messages encourage young South Africans to register to vote?
Researchers: Adam Berinsky, Daniel de Kadt, Kate Orkin, Dan Posner
Location: South Africa
Timeline: 2015-2017
Type of Project: Pilot
Widespread electoral participation is a foundational element of a healthy democracy and an important mechanism for voters to exercise policy making and public spending oversight. Existing work attributes low voter turnout in developing countries to poor voter knowledge of political processes or to disillusionment with flawed electoral processes. However, turnout often remains low and sometimes declines as democracy matures, despite voters having basic knowledge about, and trust in, electoral processes. This study considers a driver of participation not previously explored in developing countries – motivation to vote stemming from an appreciation of the value of the act. We examine the relative efficacy of informational messages about how, when, and where to vote; motivational messages about why voting is important; and a combination of both, on voter registration and turnout in a field experiment targeting 6,000 youth in Gauteng, South Africa. This project, conducted with South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Activate!, a network of youth leaders, and JPAL Africa, will produce actionable evidence to improve outreach, bolster turnout, and increase accountability in South Africa and similar developing countries.

Motivating Bureaucrats: Autonomy vs. Performance Pay for Public Procurement in Pakistan
Researchers: Oriana Bandiera, Michael Best, Adnan Khan, Andrea Prat
Location: Pakistan
Timeline: 2012-2015
Type of Project: Full Study

This project works directly with the government of Punjab, Pakistan to improve the effectiveness of public procurement. We develop two novel methods to measure procurement effectiveness and leakages based on detailed, item-level characteristics data and random field audits of purchases. We then implement a field experiment to study how these are affected by two policy reforms targeting bureaucrats’ extrinsic and intrinsic motivations to achieve value for money in procurement. The first treatment awards financial bonuses for good procurement performance. The second treatment empowers bureaucrats to exercise discretion in procurement to achieve better value for money by giving them a larger cash-in-hand budget, making pre-audit procedures simpler and more predictable, and releasing their procurement budget earlier. A third treatment combines the two to identify complementarities.

Evaluations Funded During the Sixth Round (Spring 2014):
Diminishing the Effect of Vote-Buying on Electoral Outcomes in India
Researchers: Don Green, Laura Schechter, Srinivasan Vasudevan
Location: India
Timeline: 2014
Type of Project: Full Study

Vote-buying is a widespread practice in developing countries that may undermine the accountability and responsiveness of elected officials, especially to the needs of the poor. One way to reduce the incidence of vote-buying is by diminishing its effectiveness. We hypothesize that strengthening the faith voters place in the secret ballot will reduce the distortionary effect of bribes on voter behavior. We propose to design, deploy, and evaluate such an anti-vote-buying radio campaign prior to the April 2014 national elections in India to test this hypothesis.

Participation and Regulatory Compliance in Vietnam
Researchers: Edmund Malesky, Markus Taussig
Location: Vietnam
Timeline: 2014-2015
Type of Project: Full Study

Our project will assess Vietnam’s current process for participation by firms in the drafting of new business regulations, testing whether this participation can improve labor rights and safety. We will use an RCT to analyze downstream compliance with a chemical storage regulation of four randomly assigned treatment groups 1) firms simply informed about the draft regulation; 2) firms invited to comment on the draft regulation; 3) firms invited to comment and subsequently notified that their comments will be highlighted to the drafting committee; and 4) a control group receiving only a placebo. After the final regulation is promulgated, the team will monitor the firms in all four groups to test compliance with the final legislation. Because safety requirements for hazardous chemicals are readily observable, we will have clear evidence of whether participation led to downstream compliance and which of the three mechanisms is most responsible.

Trust in State Authority and Non-State Actors
Researchers: Daron Acemoglu, Ali Cheema, Asim Khwaja, James Robinson
Location: Pakistan
Timeline: 2014-2016
Type of Project: Full Study

The ability of the state to maintain trust with its citizens is a challenge in emerging economies. The proposed study examines how perceptions of relative state effectiveness determine a citizen's engagement with state and non-state actors. It does so by introducing a range of "exposure treatments" to individuals in Pakistan, a country that offers an excellent study context. The treatments vary from information provision about positive state and non-state initiatives to facilitated access to state initiatives. The study tests whether these interventions change a citizen's beliefs and attitudes towards state and non-state actors and whether this in turn impacts the citizens’ engagement with each actor. These ideas raise the possibility of a two-way feedback between the effectiveness of the state and citizens' attitudes towards it.

Engendering Compliance: Evaluating and Improving a Randomized Tax Holiday Policy
Researchers: Thad Dunning, Felipe Monestier, Rafael Pineiro, Fernando Rosenblatt
Location: Uruguay
Timeline: 2014-2015
Type of Project: Full Study

We study a unique randomized policy innovation in Montevideo, Uruguay, in which the municipal government raffles tax holidays to eligible taxpayers. Using access to over-time tax payment records and our own survey data, we will assess the impact of holidays on subsequent tax compliance, as well as citizens’ attitudes towards taxation and governance. We will also use an experimental intervention to study the effects of informing non-winners about the existence of the lottery—which has not been effectively advertised by the government—allowing us to estimate multiplier and spillover effects of the program at full scale.

Evaluations Funded During the Fifth Round (Fall 2013):
Informing and Mobilizing Voters by Texting: Evidence from a Large-Scale Experiment in Kenya
Researchers: Benjamin Marx, Vincent Pons, Tavneet Suri
Location: Kenya
Timeline: 2013-2014
Type of Project: Full Study

This project explores the role of voter’s information in a new institutional context. The setting of the 2013 Kenyan elections differed from the widely contested 2007 elections on several dimensions, including a new electoral commission and a new set of six offices to elect. Researchers report the results of a countrywide randomized field experiment: 2,461,099 phone holders registered in 6,074 polling stations were randomly chosen out of a total of 4,908,975 phone holders and 12,160 polling stations to receive text messages in the last week before the elections. One third of the phone holders received general encouragements to vote. The second third received specific information about and encouragements to vote for each of the six elected positions. The last third received specific information about the work conducted by the electoral commission to ensure free and fair elections. The project will compare voter turnout and vote shares across groups to isolate the impact of information from the impact of mobilization.

Reconciliation, Development, and Institutional Change
Researchers: Jacobus Cilliers, Oeindrila Dube, Bilal Siddiqi
Location: Sierra Leone
Timeline: 2013-2015
Type of Project: Full Study

Can post-conflict reconciliation generate social cohesion and economic development within societies emerging out of civil war? Researchers conduct a randomized controlled trial of a community-based reconciliation intervention in Sierra Leone, which facilitates truth-telling to help resolve past war-time grievances, and forges institutions designed to improve conflict resolution and build social capital. Preliminary results based on a quarter of the study sample (80 villages) points to potential positive impacts on forgiveness, community participation and public goods provisions, while indicating negative effects on psychological well-being. In addition, researchers observe greater reliance on traditional authorities for dispute resolution, which holds direct implications for local governance. In the next steps, the study will evaluate the remaining 240 villages and carry out a second round survey of the completed sample to gauge longer-term impacts.

Evaluations Funded During the Fourth Round (Spring 2013):
Bribery in the Water Sector: Evidence from the Installation of Smart Meters
Location: Zambia
Timeline: 2012-2013
Type of Project: Pilot

Water companies in developing countries typically measure a household’s water consumption with in-person inspections by meter readers who collect hand-written records. This system is susceptible to bribery. Customers and meter readers can collude to underreport the actual water usage, which both reduces revenues for the water company and drives up water consumption. This pilot project explores the feasibility of a study in Livingstone, Zambia that would randomize the rollout of “smart meters.” Smart meters send water meter data directly to the water company via a communications network (e.g., cellular or radio). The full-scale study would measure the impact of smart meters on underreporting and on actual water consumption. The project sheds light on the broader research question of whether the benefits of bribery are regressive: How does the extent of bribery and the demand response to a crackdown in bribery vary with household income?

The Effect of Incentivizing Government Agriculture Extension Workers on Yields, Citizen Satisfaction, and on Decreasing Corruption
Researchers: Xavier Gine, Aprajit Mahajan, Enrique Seira
Location: Mexico
Timeline: 2013
Type of Project: Full Study

Productivity growth in agriculture--where most of the world's poor work--is very slow, in large measure due to slow technology adoption. Low awareness of best practices is commonly understood to be a problem, and many countries have large cadres of agricultural extension workers (AEWs) to propagate best practices. However, AEW programs have been plagued by ineffectiveness, corruption, and moral hazard. In this project, researchers will experimentally modify the pay structure for AEWs in two ways: low vs. high flat salaries and flat salaries vs. performance pay. They will evaluate the effect of the pay structure on selection as well as on performance conditional on selection. The main outcomes that will be measured are: yields, absence (shirking) of AEW in the field, recommendation of optimal inputs vs. inputs with supplier kickbacks, and shirking in AEWs reporting to the central office.

Evaluations Funded During the Third Round (Fall 2012):
Changing Beliefs, Changing Bribes
Researchers: Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, John Firth, Dan Keniston, Ben Olken, Jeff Weaver
Location: India
Timeline: 2012-2013
Type of Project: Full Study

Researchers will investigate the effect of changing legal penalties, and citizens' beliefs about these penalties, on corruption. They will focus on a single, clear case: the law against riding a motorcycle without a helmet in India, a setting where many citizens pay bribes instead of a formal ticket and are unsure of the true legal fine. The intervention comprises the second and final round of a longer project (funded in part by a GI pilot grant) designed to span a major policy change, during which the fine for riding without a helmet increased by 400 percent. For the intervention, researchers will inform a randomly selected set of motorcyclists of the true legal penalty, using both publicly observable and private information campaigns. Combined with the first round data collected prior to the policy change, this study will capture for the first time how bribes respond to legal changes. The results, both on the intensive and extensive margins of bribery, as well as on the degree of law‐breaking and police enforcement, seek to provide new insights into the underlying mechanism of corruption, as well as direct policy implications for reducing graft.

The Effects of Information on Voter Participation, Political Competition and Candidate Selection in Sierra Leone
Researchers: Kelly Bidwell, Katherine Casey, Rachel Glennerster
Location: Sierra Leone
Timeline: 2012 - 2013
Type of Project: Full Study (also funded during the first and second round)

This randomized evaluation explores innovative strategies that leverage information to enhance political accountability in the presence of strong ethnic and regional ties to parties in Sierra Leone. The accountability function of voting is compromised when citizens have little information about the performance of politicians. In the run-up to the 2012 elections in Sierra Leone, researchers are thus evaluating whether hosting structured debates between candidates provides voters with information on the performance and capabilities of incumbents and challengers, thereby relaxing reliance on ethnic-party ties, and increasing the contestability of seats. Researchers will also seek to disentangle the effect of the debates as a vehicle of information dissemination from the information itself, and further explore the mechanisms through which voters obtain and act on different types of information about candidates

Policy Evaluation by Revealed Preference: With an Application to Food Security
Partner(s): Government of Bihar Department of Food and Consumer Protection
Location: India
Timeline: 2013-2014
Type of Project: Full Study

Despite being one of the world's fastest‐growing economies, India remains home to the largest number of malnourished people in the world, and its flagship food security scheme is plagued by leakages and inefficiencies. Yet rigorous comparative evidence on alternatives, and in particular on direct cash transfers, is lacking. Researchers plan to address three questions fundamental to understanding food policy in this setting: how a switch to cash transfers would affect nutrition, how it would affect beneficiary welfare, and whether beneficiaries would prefer it. The crux of the design is to offer randomly‐selected beneficiaries the choice of exchanging their status‐quo benefits for a fiscally equivalent amount of cash, delivered via a scalable electronic payment infrastructure already deployed by the government of Bihar. This design reduces the political risk of policy experimentation and also contributes directly to improved governance by empowering beneficiaries to directly “vote” on a key policy choice.

Understanding Ethnic cooperation: Evidence from Experiments in Kenya
Researchers: Kjetil Bjorvatn, Simon Galle, Ted Miguel, Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge, Daniel Posner, Bertil Tungodden, Kelly Zhang
Location: Kenya
Timeline: 2012-2013
Type of Project: Pilot

Ethnic polarization is often linked to underdevelopment and poor governance. What amplifies and what mitigates ethnic tensions amongst individuals in a society? The proposed piloting and project expansion aims to understand how subtle and moderate changes in context can impact economic behavior. During the run-up to the 2013 Kenyan national elections, researchers plan to use behavioral economics experiments to measure altruism, cooperation, and expected generosity in within-group and across-group interactions. Using “priming” within the lab, researchers will identify if these behavioral outcomes vary with the increased situational salience of ethnic identity, national identity, or political competition. Researchers will replicate the design at two time points to examine how election proximity might affect behavior, and in neighboring Tanzania to explore how differing political histories can shape current social interactions. The study offers insight as to how social and political context shapes behavior, and the findings will also inform the design of a real-world field experiment in Kenya that will attempt to shape attitudes towards ethnic cooperation.

Evaluations Funded During the Second Round (Spring 2012):
The Impact of Information on Voter Knowledge and Engagement: Evidence from the 2012 Elections in Sierra Leone
Researchers: Kelly Bidwell, Katherine Casey, Rachel Glennerster
Location: Sierra Leone
Timeline: 2012 - 2013
Type of project: Full study (also funded during the First Round as a pilot project)

This research explores innovative strategies that leverage information to enhance political accountability in two realms—voter participation and leadership selection—in the presence of strong ethnic and regional ties to parties. The accountability function of voting is compromised when citizens have little information about the performance of politicians. Similarly, the ability of centralized parties to select candidates who represent the interests of voters depends critically on their having information about voter preferences. In the run-up to the 2012 elections in Sierra Leone, researchers are thus evaluating whether: i) hosting structured debates between candidates provides voters with information on the performance and capabilities of incumbents and challengers, thereby relaxing reliance on ethnic-party ties, and increasing the contestability of seats; and ii) providing centralized political parties with information on voter preferences and objective data on incumbent performance increases the probability that locally popular candidates and better performing incumbents are awarded the party symbol.

Recruiting and Motivating Community Health Workers: A National Field Experiment in Zambia
Researchers: Nava Ashraf, Oriana Bandiera, Scott Lee
Location: Zambia
Timeline: 2012 - 2013
Type of project: Full study

In collaboration with the government of Zambia, researchers are designing and evaluating alternative strategies to recruit, motivate, and retain a new cadre of civil servants: community health assistants (CHAs). CHAs will be recruited from their home communities, will undergo a year of formal training, and then will return to their communities, where they are expected to be serve as the first line of care for Zambians of all ages. During the first phase of the recently launched national CHA program, the Government recruited 300 CHAs from seven of Zambia's nine provinces. The Government is currently in the process of training these CHAs and in June 2012, they will be deployed into the local communities. Using a RCT design, researchers have implemented two recruitment strategies to attract different types of agents to the post, and five different non-monetary performance reward schemes to incentivize their learning during the training program. Researchers are now seeking funds to implement different performance rewards when the CHAs are deployed to the field in June. This evaluation will directly inform how best to motivate and retain the 5,000 CHAs to be deployed by 2018.

Trust in State Authority and Non-State Actors: Pilot Study
Researchers:  Daron Acemoglu, Ali Cheema, Asim Khwaja, James Robinson
Partners: Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives (IDEAS)
Location: Pakistan
Timeline: 2012 - 2013
Type of project: Pilot project

The capacity and legitimacy of the state and state institutions is critical for the overall economic and social development of a country since they influence the ability of the state to raise resources and provide public goods and services. Yet in much of the world, people are switching their allegiance from the state to various types of non-state actors, ranging from traditional elites to religious groups to paramilitaries, which actively replace the state. In this project, researchers intend to conduct field and lab experiments in Pakistan to investigate various hypotheses about what drives the decision to support non-state rather than state actors. The central hypothesis is that it is the ineffectiveness of the state itself that leads people to switch their allegiance. Researchers will test this hypothesis by revealing information about the competence and behavior of the state to a random selection of individuals and investigate how this influences their attitudes and behavior.

Governance for the Management of Local Public Goods
Researchers: Amrita Ahuja, Vivian Hoffman, Celine Gratadour, Michael Kremer
Partners: Innovations for Poverty Action’s Safe Water Program (SWP)
Location: Kenya
Timeline: 2012 - 2014
Type of project: Full study

In this project, conducted jointly with IPA’s Safe Water Program (SWP), researchers seek to shed light on two issues: the impact of public versus secret voting for local positions in a context of ethnic diversity, and the impact of involving government officials in local community projects that would otherwise be managed by NGOs. Communities who receive the water treatment program from SWP will be randomly assigned to one of three sets of interventions: (1) Election of a community worker to manage the project by secret ballot versus hand vote; (2) Monitoring of the community worker by the community alone vs by the community and a government official; and (3) Compensation of the community worker by social recognition vs a flat fee vs performance-based pay. Effects will be evaluated both on the identity of the elected community worker as well as on outcomes for the community.

Evaluations Funded During the First Round (Fall 2011):
Rajasthan Police Drunken Driving
Researcher(s): Abhijit Banerjee, Esther DufloDaniel Keniston
Partner(s)Rajasthan Police
Location: Rajasthan, India
Timeline: 2011-2012
Type of project: Full study

Rajasthan has seen a dramatic increase in the number of road accidents attributable to drunken driving, making the combat against road accidents a top priority for the authorities. This project will test the effectiveness of different strategies in carrying out anti-drunken driving roadblocks across the state. These strategies will try to tackle two problems commonly faced in the implementation of roadblocks: lack of effort and propensity to take bribes. The evaluation will engage two cross-cutting interventions to be implemented in districts across the state: (i) dedicated enforcement teams versus regular police station staff, and (ii) fixed versus surprise roadblocks.

Increasing the Transparency of Environmental Regulation
Researcher(s)Michael GreenstoneAparna Krishnan, Nicholas Ryan, Rohini PandeAnant Sudarshan 
Partner(s): State environmental regulator
Location: India
Timeline: 2011-2012
Type of project: Full study

This project will assess the effectiveness of disseminated information in improving the enforcement of environmental regulation in India. The evaluation, conducted jointly with the environmental regulator in an Indian state, will test two interventions. First, a Continuous Emissions Monitoring System (CEMS), which will report pollution readings directly to the regulator’s office; versus a manual emission monitoring system, in which emissions are measured by an engineer at most several times each year. Second, pollution data from select firms will be disseminated via the internet to increase public awareness. The two interventions will be crossed to create four treatment groups. The project will measure the impact of these treatments on regulatory actions and pollution emissions.

The Social Network of Firms: Can Social Incentives and Taxpayer Recognition Improve Tax Compliance?
Researcher(s): Nasiruddin Ahmed, Raj Chetty, Ahmed Mushfiq MobarakAminur Rahman, Monica Singhal 
Location: Bangladesh
Timeline: 2011-2013
Type of project: Full study

Improving tax revenue collection is an important priority for developing economies throughout the world. Traditional methods for improving compliance have generally relied on a punishment-based method: audits, coupled with penalties, for non-compliant taxpayers. This study experiments with an alternative strategy, leveraging the power of social recognition to encourage voluntary tax compliance. To create the information required to produce social recognition, researchers partnering with the National Board of Revenue will randomly select taxpayers to receive regular direct mailings where the top taxpayers in each market area will be recognized in front of their peers. Since this type of program places fewer demands on governments and involves lower costs than traditional audit-based methods, social recognition could prove to be an insightful innovation—one that could be applied more broadly to other countries and sectors struggling with governance failures.

Strengthening Managerial Capacity in the Public Sector: A Randomized Evaluation of the Program for the Strengthening of Municipal Management
Partner(s)Controladoria Geral da Uniao (CGU), Brazil’s Federal Government
Location: Brazil
Timeline: 2011-2012
Type of project: Pilot project

Countries throughout the developing world have decentralized the delivery of public services to local governments, in hopes that the informational advantages of local officials may improve the allocation and targeting of public resources. In many cases, however, these expectations have not been met. The goal of this pilot project is to lay the groundwork for implementing a broader, longer-term project that will rigorously test whether improvements in bureaucratic quality will result in more efficient public service delivery. Researchers will collaborate with the Controladoria Geral da União to design and evaluate new training program aimed at improving the managerial capacity of public sector employees of local governments in Brazil.

Increasing Effectiveness of Public Sector Nurses Through Monitoring Technologies: Pilot Study in Urban India
Researcher(s)Rema Hanna 
Partner(s): The City of Hyderabad 
Location: Hyderabad, India
Timeline: 2011-2012
Type of project: Pilot project

Extensive evidence suggests that high rates of staff absence and resource leakage, enabled by poor systems of accountability, are one of the key reasons behind the low take-up and poor provision of public health services for women and children in India. To address these problems, the city of Hyderabad has developed a handheld tracking system for field nurses, based on a cheap and portable device. In this pilot project, researchers will work with the city of Hyderabad to pilot the system and then develop a randomized evaluation to test whether the program is an effective tool for supervisors to monitor the activity of nurses, and to test the impact of the system on health-related outcomes.

Understanding Incentives and Governance of Kenyan Coffee Cooperatives
Location: Kenya
Timeline: 2011-2013
Type of project: Pilot project

Although programs for setting up coffee mills and cooperatives across Africa have been successful in increasing coffee quality and the price paid to cooperatives, they have been less effective at passing these gains on to farmers. The problem appears to be linked to governance issues in the cooperatives—for example, problems with recording how much coffee is in fact delivered by the farmers. In this project, researchers in collaboration with TechnoServe (TNS) will explore the source of corruption in coffee cooperatives in Kenya. This pilot project will use interviews and field visits to design and develop a program to introduce electronic weighing scales among cooperatives. This will be complemented with additional treatments, which might include audits, an extra monitor, the random verification of farms, or an incentive on aggregate quantities/ratios.

Enforcing Anti-Corruption Laws on Traffic Law Violators
Researcher(s)Sharon Barnhardt, Pavan Mamidi 
Partner(s): Hyderabad Traffic Police, AP Anti-Corruption Bureau
Location: Hyderabad, India
Timeline: 2011-2012
Type of project: Pilot project

In the aggregate, even small routine bribes can be very harmful. Petty bribes reduce the expected cost of punishment faced by individuals, diluting the deterrence effect of laws, while also providing a gateway to more serious police corruption. The goal of this study is to determine the impact of enforcing existing laws on incidence and amounts of bribes, compliance with laws, and citizen satisfaction in Hyderabad, India. This pilot project will explore mechanisms to enforce rules against offering bribes to police. For example, by adding new police home guards, specially trained in filing corruption abetment cases and equipped with relevant technology. The study will then test how this intervention changes the amount of fines collected, bribes offered, traffic violations committed, and citizens’ perceptions of the police.