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This paper presents a randomized field experiment on reducing corruptionin over 600 Indonesian village road projects. I find that increasinggovernment audits from 4 percent of projects to 100 percentreduced missing expenditures, as measured by discrepancies betweenofficial project costs and an independent engineers' estimate of costs,by eight percentage points. By contrast, increasing grassroots participationin monitoring had little average impact, reducing missing expendituresonly in situations with limited free-rider problems andlimited elite capture. Overall, the results suggest that traditional topdownmonitoring can play an important role in reducing corruption,even in a highly corrupt environment.
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January 01, 2007
English
This paper is a practical guide (a toolkit) for researchers, students and practitioners wishing to introduce randomization as part of a research design in the field. It first covers the rationale for the use of randomization, as a solution to selection bias and a partial solution to publication biases. Second, it discusses various ways in which randomization can be practically introduced in a field settings. Third, it discusses designs issues such as sample size requirements, stratification, level of randomization and data collection methods. Fourth, it discusses how to analyze data from randomized evaluations when there are departures from the basic framework. It reviews in particular how to handle imperfect compliance and externalities. Finally, it discusses some of the issues involved in drawing general conclusions from randomized evaluations, including the necessary use of theory as a guide when designing evaluations and interpreting results.
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Report
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December 01, 2006
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We analyze a randomized experiment in which 14,000 tax filers in H&R Block offices in St. Louis received matches of zero, 20 percent, or 50 percent of IRA contributions. Take-up rates were 3 percent, 8 percent, and 14 percent, respectively. Among contributors, contributions, excluding the match, averaged $765 in the control group and $1100 in the match groups. Taxpayer responses to similar incentives in the Saver’s Credit are much smaller. Taxpayers did not game the experiment by receiving a match and strategically withdrawing funds. Tax professionals significantly influenced contribution choices. These results suggest that both incentives and information affect behavior.
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November 01, 2006
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This paper presents the results of two randomized experiments conducted in schools in urban India. A remedial education program hired young women to teach students lagging behind in basic literacy and numeracy skills. It increased average test scores of all children in treatment schools by 0.28 standard deviation, mostly due to large gains experienced by children at the bottom of the test-score distribution. A computer-assisted learning program focusing on math increased math scores by 0.47 standard deviation. One year after the programs were over initial gains remained significant for targeted children, but they faded to about 0.10 standard deviation.
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Working Paper
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October 01, 2006
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The authors report results from a randomized evaluation comparing three school-based HIV/AIDS interventions in Kenya: (1) training teachers in the Kenyan Government's HIV/AIDS-education curriculum; (2) encouraging students to debate the role of condoms and to write essays on how to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS; and (3) reducing the cost of education. Their primary measure of the effectiveness of these interventions is teenage childbearing, which is associated with unprotected sex. The authors also collected measures of knowledge, attitudes, and behavior regarding HIV/AIDS. After two years, girls in schools where teachers had been trained were more likely to be married in the event of a pregnancy. The program had little other impact on students' knowledge, attitudes, and behavior, or on the incidence of teen childbearing. The condom debates and essays increased practical knowledge and self-reported use of condoms without increasing self-reported sexual activity. Reducing the cost...
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Working Paper
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October 01, 2006
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Youth are simultaneously the primary victims and the primary actors in the two-decade long war in northern Uganda. Yet, while we know that youth have suffered (and continue to do so), we have not been able to answer with confidence or precision some crucial questions, namely: who is suffering, how much, and in what ways? Moreover, while we know that youth have made up the bulk of the armed rebel group, almost always forcibly, we have little sense of the magnitude, incidence, and nature of the violence and trauma.
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September 01, 2006
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This paper argues that the important challenge for an impact evaluation study is to determine the answer to the question how lives of participants would have changed had the policy not been implemented. An evaluation that provides an answer to be above question can be considered as a reliable evaluation.
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August 01, 2006
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This paper presents an application of the randomized controlled trial methodology to evaluating modifications to the design of microcredit programs. As microfinance becomes an even more popular tool for fighting poverty, institutions innovate in their products and programs at a rapid pace. Policymakers and practitioners should know the relative impact of different designs, both to the client (in terms of welfare) and to the institution (in terms of financial sustainability). We discuss the current approach to evaluating product or program changes, and the reasons why more rigorous evaluations are necessary. We then discuss why randomized controlled trials can prove vital to icrofinance institutions in identifying effective program designs in different environments. In this paper, we focus on the choice of lending methodologies – credit with education versus credit only, and group versus individual liability -- to illustrate the benefits of randomized controlled trials as a business too...
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Working Paper
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July 01, 2006
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Informal lending and savings institutions exist around the world, and often include regular door-to-door deposit collection of cash. Some banks have adopted similar services in order to expand access to banking services in areas that lack physical branches. Using a randomized control trial, we investigate determinants of participation in a deposit collection service and evaluate the impact of offering the service for micro-savers of a rural bank in the Philippines. Of 137 individuals offered the service in the treatment group, 38 agreed to sign-up, and 20 regularly used the service. Take-up is predicted by distance to the bank (a measure of transaction costs of depositing without the service) as well as being married (a suggestion that household bargaining issues are important). Those offered the service saved 188 pesos more (which equates to about a 25% increase in savings stock) and were slightly less likely to borrow from the bank.
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May 01, 2006
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We designed a commitment savings product for a Philippine bank and implemented it using a randomized control methodology. The savings product was intended for individuals who want to commit now to restrict access to their savings, and who were sophisticated enough to engage in such a mechanism. We conducted a baseline survey on 1777 existing or former clients of a bank. One month later, we offered the commitment product to a randomly chosen subset of 710 clients; 202 (28.4 percent) accepted the offer and opened the account. In the baseline survey, we asked hypothetical time discounting questions. Women who exhibited a lower discount rate for future relative to current trade-offs, and hence potentially have a preference for commitment, were indeed significantly more likely to open the commitment savings account. After twelve months, average savings balances increased by 81 percentage points for those clients assigned to the treatment group relative to those assigned to the control group...
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May 01, 2006
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This article considers several aspects of the economic decision making of the poor from the perspective of behavioral economics, and it focuses on potential contributions from marketing. Among other things, the authors consider some relevant facets of the social and institutional environments in which the poor interact, and they review some behavioral patterns that are likely to arise in these contexts. A behaviorally more informed perspective can help make sense of what might otherwise be considered “puzzles” in the economic comportment of the poor. A behavioral analysis suggests that substantial welfare changes could result from relatively minor policy interventions, and insightful marketing may provide much needed help in the design of such interventions.
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March 01, 2006
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Anemia is among the most widespread health problems for children in developing countries. This paper evaluates the impact of a randomized health intervention delivering iron supplementation and deworming drugs to Indian preschool children. At baseline 69 percent were anemic and 30 percent had intestinal worm infections. Weight increased among assisted children, and preschool participation rates rose by 5.8 percentage points, reducing absenteeism by one fifth. Gains were especially pronounced for those most likely to be anemic at baseline. Results contribute to a growing view that school-based health programs are an effective way of promoting school attendance in less developed countries.
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Working Paper
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February 01, 2006
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There is a long tradition in development economics of collecting original data to test specific hypotheses. Over the last 10 years, this tradition has merged with an expertise in setting up randomized field experiments, resulting in an increasingly large number of studies where an original experiment has been set up to test economic theories and hypotheses. This paper extracts some substantive and methodological lessons from such studies in three domains: incentives, social learning, and time-inconsistent preferences. The paper argues that we need both to continue testing existing theories and to start thinking of how the theories may be adapted to make sense of the field experiment results, many of which are starting to challenge them. This new framework could then guide a new round of experiments.
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Working Paper
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January 01, 2006
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Absent providers are a major problem both for public health facilities and primary schools in many developing countries. For example, in India, absence rates for teachers are over 24 percent, and for health providers they are over 40 percent. This paper presents evidence on a number of innovative strategies to reduce absenteeism in government- and nongovernmental organization-run schools and health facilities. These strategies were implemented in Kenya and India over the past few years and have been evaluated using the randomized evaluation methodology. The strategies involved alternative levers to fight absence. Some tried to improve incentives for providers, either through rewards and punishments implemented by external monitors, or through facilitating a more active involvement of those who expect to benefit from the service. Others are based on the idea that the providers are discouraged by the lack of interest among the potential beneficiaries in what they are being offered; these...
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January 01, 2006
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This paper studies the productivity and distributional effects of large irrigation dams in India. Our instrumental variable estimates exploit the fact that river gradient affects a district’s suitability for dams. In districts located downstream from a dam, agricultural production increases, and vulnerability to rainfall shocks declines. In contrast, agricultural production shows an insignificant increase in the district where the dam is located but its volatility increases. Rural poverty declines in downstream districts but increases in the district where the dam is built, suggesting that neither markets nor state institutions have alleviated the adverse distributional impacts of dam construction.
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July 01, 2005
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This paper studies the impact of reservation for women on the performance of policy makers and on voters’ perceptions of this performance. Since the mid 1990’s, one third of Village Council head positions in India have been randomly reserved for a woman: In these councils only women could be elected to the position of chief. Village Councils are responsible for the provision of many local public goods in rural areas. Using a data set which combines individual level data on satisfaction with public services with independent assessments of the quality of public facilities, we compare objective measures of the quantity and quality of public goods, and information about how villagers evaluate the performance of male and female leaders. Overall, villages reserved for women leaders have more public goods, and the measured quality of these goods is at least as high as in non-reserved villages. Moreover, villagers are less likely to pay bribes in villages reserved for women. Yet, residents of...
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October 01, 2004
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This paper uses political reservations for women in India to study the impact of women’s leadership on policy decisions. Since the mid-1990’s, one third of Village Council head positions in India have been randomly reserved for a woman: In these councils only women could be elected to the position of head. Village Councils are responsible for the provision of many local public goods in rural areas. Using a dataset we collected on 265 Village Councils in West Bengal and Rajasthan, we compare the type of public goods provided in reserved and unreserved Village Councils. We show that the reservation of a council seat affects the types of public goods provided. Specifically, leaders invest more in infrastructure that is directly relevant to the needs of their own genders
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September 01, 2004
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Many countries are amending their political systems to set aside positions to groups, such as women and racial or religious minorities, that are perceived as being disadvantaged. Using evidence from India, this article assesses the case for these reservations.
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September 01, 2004
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This paper compares retrospective and prospective analyses of the effect of flip charts on test scores in rural Kenyan schools. Retrospective estimates suggest that flip charts raise test scores by up to 20% of a standard deviation. Yet prospective estimators based on a randomized trial provide no evidence that flip charts increase test scores. One interpretation is that the retrospective results suffered from omitted variable bias. If the direction of this bias were similar in other retrospective analyses of educational inputs in developing countries, the effects of inputs may be more modest than retrospective studies suggest. A difference-in-differences retrospective estimator seems to reduce bias, but it requires additional assumptions and is feasible for only some educational inputs.
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June 01, 2004
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We study race in the labor market by sending fictitious resumes to help-wanted ads in Boston and Chicago newspapers. To manipulate perceived race, resumes are randomly assigned African American or White sounding names. White names receive 50 percent more callbacks for interviews. Callbacks are also more responsive to resume quality for White names than for African American ones. The racial gap is uniform across occupation, industry, and employer size. We also find little evidence that employers are inferring social class from the names. Differential treatment by race still appears to still be prominent in the U.S. labor market.
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June 01, 2004

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