Social Norm and Debt Repayment: Field Experiments in a Debt-collector Enterprise
Last registered on February 07, 2016


Trial Information
General Information
Social Norm and Debt Repayment: Field Experiments in a Debt-collector Enterprise
Initial registration date
February 07, 2016
Last updated
February 07, 2016 5:53 PM EST
Primary Investigator
European University Institute
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The study will consist of two field experiments in cooperation with Latvian debt-collector enterprise. The research will examine the extent to which a descriptive social norm and a personalization motivate consumers to pay back their debts rather than to give up and default. Both the effectiveness of communication and the content will be examined. It will provide information on the strenght of social norms regarding the financial discipline among the households in Latvia.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Saulitis, Andris. 2016. "Social Norm and Debt Repayment: Field Experiments in a Debt-collector Enterprise." AEA RCT Registry. February 07.
Former Citation
Saulitis, Andris. 2016. "Social Norm and Debt Repayment: Field Experiments in a Debt-collector Enterprise." AEA RCT Registry. February 07.
Experimental Details
During the experiments debtors will be randomized among either to a control group, which will not receive any messages, or a treatment group to receive weekly assigned mobile text messages and/or e-mails. The research will examine separately and in combination four kinds of treatments and their effect on compliance: (1) a simple reminder; (2) a descriptive social norm; (3) personalization in terms of the sender/debt-collector; (4) personalization in terms of the debtor.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The outcome variable in the experiments is the level of debtor’s deviance. In Experiment 1, it includes three possible outcomes: (1) debtor does not respond; (2) debtor communicates; (3) debtor has agreed upon the repayment plan. At the beginning of Experiment 1, the debtors were either in the (1) or (2) group. In Experiment 2, the deviance level will be measured as a continuous variable, measuring the number of days, which the debtor deviated from the repayment plan. The variable ranges from “0”, which means that the payment was made on time, to “35”, when the debtor’s repayment plan is cancelled by the debt-collector.
In order to monitor the results during the experiments, every Monday the debt-collector company will report on the status of each case. These status codes will provide the information on the performance of the level of deviance in each of the groups
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The study includes two field experiments in Latvia in cooperation with the debt-collector. In both of them, treatment groups will receive e-mails and/or mobile text messages. The differences are in terms of type of the debtors in the samples. In Experiment 1 invidividuals are in a status of a default, but in Experiment 2 the consumers have started to repay their debt. The debtors will receive the treatment through both communication channels (e-mails and text messages). In case the information on debtor will contain only one out of two communication channels, the debtor will be contacted via the only available channel.
Experimental Design Details
Experiment 1: Weekly messages with an invitation for the receivers to pay back the debt in arrears. The types of debts in this group are consumer credits for small purchases, fast-credits and other small amount debts; Experiment 2: Monthly messages of reminders to the debtors in the process of repaying various types of debt. Before the start of the experiments, debtors in Experiment 1 were not contacted by the debt-collector for two weeks. All the debtors in the Experiment 2 before the start of the experiment, if they had a payment due, received monthly payment reminders, which were similar to the simple reminder treatment in the Experiment 2.
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Cases from the debt-collectors portfolio.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Experiment 1: 27,209 cases
Experiment 2: 2,845 cases
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Experiment 1: Control group 5,441, treatment group at least 2,720
Experiment 2: Control group 569, treatment group at least 284
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB Name
Ethics Committee at the European University Institute
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers