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Credibility Gains from Communicating with the Public: Evidence from the ECB’s new Monetary Policy Strategy

Last registered on January 03, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Credibility Gains from Communicating with the Public: Evidence from the ECB’s new Monetary Policy Strategy
Initial registration date
December 30, 2022

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
January 03, 2023, 5:29 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

European Central Bank

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
European Central Bank
PI Affiliation
European Central Bank

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
We provided random subsets of respondents with different pieces of information about the inflation target of the European Central Bank and the underlying decisions about its new monetary policy strategy, announced in July 2021. Another random subset (the control group) did not receive any information. This set-up allows us to identify the causal effects from communicating the strategy review decisions on the perceived credibility of the ECB’s target.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Ehrmann, Michael, Dimitris Georgarakos and Geoff Kenny. 2023. "Credibility Gains from Communicating with the Public: Evidence from the ECB’s new Monetary Policy Strategy." AEA RCT Registry. January 03.
Experimental Details


we fielded a set of special-purpose questions in the new Consumer Expectations Survey (CES). The CES is an online survey conducted by the ECB on a monthly basis among more than 10,000 consumers in the six largest euro area countries, i.e., Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the Netherlands. The survey is representative of the national adult populations and covers a range of topics including economic expectations, income and consumption, labour and housing markets as well as consumer finance. Further details about the CES are provided in ECB (2021, ECB Consumer Expectations Survey: An overview and first evaluation. ECB Occasional Paper No. 287) and Georgarakos and Kenny (2022, Household spending and government support during the COVID-19 pandemic: Insights from a new consumer survey. Journal of Monetary Economics 129, S1-S14).
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
“How likely do you think it is that the ECB will maintain price stability in the euro area economy over the next 3 years?” Respondents could give any percentage between 0% and 100%.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
How much higher or lower do you think prices in general will be 12 months from now in the country you currently live in?
By about what percentage do you expect prices in general in the country you currently live in to increase/decrease on average over the next 3 years?
How confident are you of your prediction about changes in prices in general on average over the next 3 years?
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Likelihood that inflation expectations are between 1 and 3%
Binary confidence indicator that takes the value 1 if respondents report some confidence (i.e. answer ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’) about their medium-term inflation forecast and 0 otherwise

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We randomly split the sample into five groups, stratified by country. The information treatment effects of interest are identified relative to a control group that completes the special-purpose survey without receiving any information about the ECB’s Strategy Review. In contrast, the four treatment groups got to read different parts of the Strategy Review-related communication that is available on the ECB’s website. The first type of information, which was provided to all four treatment groups, describes the ECB’s new inflation target as follows:
“The ECB aims for a 2% inflation target over the medium term as the best way to maintain price stability. The target is symmetric: inflation may sometimes be slightly above it or below. The ECB looks through short-term deviations. Persistent negative and positive deviations are regarded as equally undesirable.”
The other three treatment groups all received the above baseline information about the new symmetric target plus one additional element each. These additional elements had also been emphasised in the new framework. The second treatment group is additionally provided with a description of the function of the target that had been provided as a further explanation in the accompanying ECB press release:
“A target of 2% has an important function: it creates space so that monetary policy can have its stabilising effect. In bad times, such as during the pandemic, monetary policy stimulates the economy through low interest rates and so has significant favourable effects on economic growth and employment. This may also imply a transitory period in which inflation is moderately above the target of 2%.”
A third treatment group received the baseline description of the symmetric target, and in addition a statement on the ECB’s perspective on climate change:
“In addition, the ECB has acknowledged that climate change is an existential challenge for the world, and it is of strategic importance for the ECB’s mandate. As a result, the ECB has decided on a number of measures to account explicitly for the implications of climate change and the carbon transition in its new monetary policy strategy.”
The fourth treatment group received additionally a statement on the ECB’s intention to include housing costs in the measurement of inflation:
“In addition, the ECB has heard the calls of European citizens for a broader coverage of housing costs in the measurement of inflation and it will work towards making this possible.”
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Random sample assignment into 5 groups, stratified by country and sample recruitment method (via probabilistic or existing panels)
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
10000 consumers
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
2000 per treatment arm
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
September 30, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
March 30, 2022, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
About 10,000 households
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
About 10,000 households
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
About 2,000 households per treatment arm
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

We show that the announcement of the ECB’s Strategy Review and the revision of its inflation target in summer 2021 went largely unnoticed by the wider public. Although it is hard to reach out to this group, we find evidence that communicating key elements of the strategy can enhance the perceived credibility that price stability will be maintained in the medium-term. Randomised information treatments reveal that providing additional explanations about monetary policy’s stabilising role has the strongest positive impact on credibility, boosting credibility also among the less financially literate and generating more persistent credibility gains, even after inflation increased.
Michael Ehrmann, Dimitris Georgarakos and Geoff Kenny (2023). Credibility gains from communicating with the public: evidence from the ECB’s new monetary policy strategy. ECB Working Paper No. 2785

Reports & Other Materials