Can Smart Technology Systems Improve Direct Benefit Transfer Performance and Increase Participation? Evidence from MGNREGA in India
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 controlled 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.