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A body of literature suggests that relationships affect contractual and market outcomes, but how does market structure affect the economics of relationships? This paper provides microeconometric evidence that upstream market structure affects the value of downstream relationships between retailers and buyers. In our setting, a monopoly ice manufacturer sells through independent retailers to fishermen buyers in Sierra Leone. We demonstrate that a shock that increases upstream competition among manufacturers improves the contractual terms offered by retailers to buyers. Under the monopolistic manufacturer, we document that late deliveries are common due to outside demand shocks. To help mitigate this uncertainty, retailers prioritize loyal customers when faced with shortages, and buyers respond by rarely switching retailers. When manufacturers compete, prices fall, quantities increase and services improve with fewer late deliveries. Entry upstream also disrupts collusion among retailers...
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Working Paper
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January 24, 2015
English
This paper tests how migrants’ willingness to remit changes when given the ability to direct remittances to educational purposes using different forms of commitment. Variants of a dictator game in a lab-in-the-field experiment with Filipino migrants in Rome are used to examine remitting behavior under varying degrees of commitment. These range from the soft commitment of simply labeling remittances as being for education, to the hard commitment of having funds directly paid to a school and the student’s educational performance monitored. We find that the introduction of simple labeling for education raises remittances by more than 15%. Adding the ability to directly send this funding to the school adds only a further 2.2%. We randomly vary the information asymmetry between migrants and their most closely connected household, but find no significant change in the remittance response to these forms of commitment as information varies. Behavior in these games is then shown to be predictiv...
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Published Paper
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January 07, 2015
English
We report results from a randomized evaluation of a microcredit program introduced in rural areas of Morocco in 2006. Thirteen percent of the households in treatment villages took a loan, and none in control villages did. Among households identified as more likely to borrow, microcredit access led to a significant rise in investment in assets used for self-employment activities, and an increase in profit, but also to a reduction in income from casual labor. Overall there was no gain in income or consumption. We find suggestive evidence that these results are mainly driven by effects on borrowers, rather than by externalities.
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January 01, 2015
Despite regulatory efforts designed to make it easier for firms to formalize, informality remains extremely high among firms in Sub-Saharan Africa. In most of the region, business registration in a national registry is separate from tax registration. This paper provides initial results from an experiment in Malawi that randomly allocated firms into a control group and three treatment groups: a) a group offered assistance for costless business registration; b) a group offered assistance with costless business registration and (separate) tax registration; and c) a group offered assistance for costless business registration along with an information session at a bank that ended with the offer of business bank accounts. The study finds that all three treatments had extremely large impacts on business registration, with 75 percent of those offered assistance receiving a business registration certificate. The findings offer a cost-effective way of getting firms to formalize in this dimension...
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Working Paper
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January 01, 2015
English
We explore the impact of reduced transaction costs on risk sharing by estimating the effects of a mobile money innovation on consumption. In our panel sample, adoption of the innovation increased from 43 to 70 percent. We find that, while shocks reduce consumption by 7 percent for nonusers, the consumption of user households is unaffected. The mechanisms underlying these consumption effects are increases in remittances received and the diversity of senders. We report robustness checks supporting these results and use the four-fold expansion of the mobile money agent network as a source of exogenous variation in access to the innovation.
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Published Paper
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December 31, 2014
English
We conduct a field experiment to evaluate the effect of extrinsic rewards, both financial and non-financial, on the performance of agents recruited by a public health organization to promote HIV prevention and sell condoms. In this setting: (i) non-financial rewards are effective at improving performance; (ii) the effect of both rewards is stronger for pro-socially motivated agents; (iii) the effect of both rewards is stronger when their relative value is higher. The findings illustrate that extrinsic rewards can improve the performance of agents engaged in public service delivery, and that non-financial rewards can be effective in settings where the power of financial incentives is limited.
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Published Paper
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December 30, 2014
English
Some education policymakers focus on bringing down pupil–teacher ratios. Others argue that resources will have limited impact without systematic reforms to education governance, teacher incentives, and pedagogy. We examine a program under which school committees at randomly selected Kenyan schools were funded to hire an additional teacher on an annual contract renewable conditional on performance, outside normal Ministry of Education civil-service channels, at one-quarter normal compensation levels. For students randomly assigned to stay with existing classes, test scores did not increase significantly, despite a reduction in class size from 82 to 44 on average. In contrast, scores increased for students assigned to be taught by locally-hired contract teachers. One reason may be that contract teachers had low absence rates, while centrally-hired civil-service teachers in schools randomly assigned contract teachers endogenously reduced their effort. Civil-service teachers also captured...
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December 09, 2014
Spanish A4
Siguiendo con nuestra tradición global, en Bolivia hemos realizado investiga- ciones aplicables y rigurosas en áreas de interés nacional, mientras construimos capacidades fundamentales de inves- tigación. Los ejemplos de investigación presentados a continuación ofrecen evidencia prometedora sobre cuestio- nes que afectan a la población pobre en Bolivia.
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Brief
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November 23, 2014
Spanish A4
Siguiendo con nuestra tradición global, en Paraguay hemos realizado investiga- ciones aplicables y rigurosas en áreas de interés nacional, mientras construimos capacidades fundamentales de inves- tigación. Los ejemplos de investigación presentados a continuación ofrecen evidencia prometedora sobre cuestio- nes que afectan a la población pobre en América Latina.
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Brief
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November 23, 2014
English
The canonical model of expenditure choices assumes that people are able to smooth their consumption. However, extensive empirical and theoretical work suggests that consumption smoothing is imperfect, so the precise timing of individuals’ income may affect their behavior. We report results from a randomized field experiment in Malawi that varied the timing of workers’ income receipt in two ways. First, payments were made either in weekly installments or as a monthly lump sum, in order to vary the extent to which workers had to save up to make profitable investments. Second, payments at a local market were made either on the weekend market day (Saturday) or the day before the market day (Friday), in order to vary the degree of temptation workers faced when receiving payments. We provide novel evidence that the frequency of payments matters for workers’ ability to benefit from high-return investment opportunities. Workers in the monthly group have more cash left in the week after the las...
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Working Paper
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November 01, 2014
English
We use a suite of economic experiments to study social preferences governing the distribution of earned and unearned income in rural villages in western Kenya. Our experiments vary the extent to which income depends on individual effort while holding other aspects of the economic environment constant. Results suggest that, in rural villages, the relative weight placed on others does not depend on the extent to which those individual increased the total surplus through their own effort. However, more educated subjects and those drawn from villages closer to the road do reward others for their effort; their allocation decisions are consistent with models of reciprocity.
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Published Paper
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October 24, 2014
English A4
Programs promoting financial literacy and savings among children and youth have the potential to effectively promote financial inclusion over participants’ lifetimes. Since 2009, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) has conducted randomized evaluations of three programs that aim to promote savings and financial education among children and youth and has found promising impacts in all three.
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Brief
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October 23, 2014
English
Background: Low rates of adherence to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) regimens increase the risk of treatment failure and may lead to drug resistance, threatening the sustainability of current anti-malarial efforts. We assessed the impact of text message reminders on adherence to ACT regimens. Methods: Health workers at hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and other stationary ACT distributors in Tamale, Ghana provided flyers advertising free mobile health information to individuals receiving malaria treatment. The messaging system automatically randomized self-enrolled individuals to the control group or the treatment group with equal probability; those in the treatment group were further randomly assigned to receive a simple text message reminder or the simple reminder plus an additional statement about adherence in 12-hour intervals. The main outcome was self-reported adherence based on follow-up interviews occurring three days after treatment initiation. We estimated the imp...
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October 18, 2014
High transaction and contracting costs are often thought to create credit and savings market failures in developing countries. The microfinance movement grew largely out of business process innovations and subsidies that reduced these costs. We examine an alternative approach, one that infuses no external capital and introduces no change to formal contracts: an improved “technology” for managing informal, collaborative village‐based savings groups. Such groups allow, in theory, for more efficient and lower‐cost loans and informal savings, and in practice have been scaled up by international non‐profit organizations to millions of members. Individuals save together and then lend the accumulated funds back out to themselves. In a randomized evaluation in Mali, we find improvements in food security, consumption smoothing, and buffer stock savings. Although we do find suggestive evidence of higher agricultural output, we do not find overall higher income or expenditure. We also do not find...
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Working Paper
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October 01, 2014
English
Declining fertility in both the developed and developing world has led to large and potentially welfare-enhancing changes in women’s labor supply, education and investment in children in recent decades. However, it has been widely noted that the pace of this decline has stalled even while access to contraception has continued to expand, raising the question of whether increasing access to contraception is sufficient to lead to declining fertility. This paper provides evidence about the relationship between contraceptive access and fertility from a randomized controlled trial in Lusaka, Zambia, in which women of child-bearing age were provided with a voucher for free and immediate access to long-acting forms of contraception; this voucher was provided either to the woman individually, or the woman jointly with her spouse. Results show that there is a significant increase in contraceptive use, and a particularly large increase in experimentation with new contraceptive methods, but no dec...
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Working Paper
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September 30, 2014
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We report the results of a randomized experiment testing impacts of subsidies for modern agricultural inputs in rural Mozambique. One-time provision of a voucher for fertilizer and improved seeds leads to substantial increases in fertilizer use, which persist through two subsequent agricultural seasons. Voucher receipt also leads to large, persistent increases in household agricultural production and market sales, per capita consumption, assets, durable good ownership, and housing improvements.   Consistent with learning models of the adoption decision, we find positive treatment effects on farmers' estimated returns to the input package. We also document positive cross-household treatment spillovers: one's own fertilizer use rises in the number of social network members receiving vouchers. Our findings are consistent with theoretical models predicting persistence of impacts of temporary technology adoption subsidies, in particular due to learning effects.
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Working Paper
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September 30, 2014
English
Established in 2009, the US Household Finance Initiative (USHFI) leads IPA’s US research. Directed by researchers Jonathan Zinman (Dartmouth College) and Dean Karlan (Yale University), the initiative uses insights from behavioral economics to develop, rigorously evaluate, and scale cost-effective financial products and product innovations that help low- to moderate-income households lead healthier financial lives.
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Brief
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September 01, 2014
English
Hunger during pre-harvest lean seasons is widespread in the agrarian areas of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. We randomly assign an $8.50 incentive to households in rural Bangladesh to temporarily out-migrate during the lean season. The incentive induces 22% of households to send a seasonal migrant, their consumption at the origin increases significantly, and treated households are 8–10 percentage points more likely to re-migrate 1 and 3 years after the incentive is removed. These facts can be explained qualitatively by a model in which migration is risky, mitigating risk requires individual-specific learning, and some migrants are sufficiently close to subsistence that failed migration is very costly. We document evidence consistent with this model using heterogeneity analysis and additional experimental variation, but calibrations with forward-looking households that can save up to migrate suggest that it is difficult for the model to quantitatively match the data. We conclude with exte...
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September 01, 2014
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Cash transfers directed to female caregivers in Nicaragua led to gains in child-development outcomes that persisted beyond the duration of the program. Early childhood is a critical period for investment in human development, the circumstances of which can have lifelong impacts. Physical, cognitive, or behavioral delays in development can result in long-term negative effects on health, educational attainment, labor-market outcomes, and other indicators of well-being. Conditional cash transfer (cct) programs are one way to help parents who lack resources invest more in their children. These programs provide families with cash grants as long as they undertake certain activities such as having their children attend regular health check-ups. While there is a large body of evidence on the short-term impacts of ccts on children’s development, there is less evidence on their long-term impacts. To better understand the effects of ccts later in life, researchers evaluated two distinct cct progr...
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July 21, 2014
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We posit that household decision-making over fertility is characterized by moral hazard since most contraception can only be perfectly observed by the woman. Using an experiment in Zambia that varied whether women were given access to contraceptives alone or with their husbands, we find that women given access with their husbands were 19 percent less likely to seek family planning services, 25 percent less likely to use concealable contraception, and 27 percent more likely to give birth. However, women given access to contraception alone report a lower subjective well-being, suggesting a psycho-social cost of making contraceptives more concealable.
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July 01, 2014

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