The Equilibrium Effects of Public Spending in Education

Last registered on February 07, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

The Equilibrium Effects of Public Spending in Education
Initial registration date
February 03, 2023

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
February 07, 2023, 11:34 AM EST

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

Last updated
February 07, 2023, 11:37 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

International Food Policy Research Institute

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Pomona College
PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
Georgetown University
PI Affiliation
Harvard University

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial is based on or builds upon one or more prior RCTs.
We estimate the equilibrium effects of a public school grant program administered through school councils in Pakistani villages with multiple public and private schools and clearly defined catchment boundaries. The program was randomized at the village-level, allowing us to estimate its causal impact on the market. Four years after the start of the program, test scores were 0.2 sd higher in public schools. We find evidence of an education multiplier: test scores in private schools were also 0.2 sd higher in treated markets. Consistent with standard models of product differentiation, the education multiplier is greater for those private schools that faced a greater threat to their market power. Accounting for private sector responses increases the program's cost-effectiveness by 85% and affects how a policymaker would target spending. Given that markets with several public and private schools are now pervasive in low- and middle-income countries, prudent policy requires us to account for private sector responses to public policy, both in their design and in their evaluation.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Andrabi, Tahir et al. 2023. "The Equilibrium Effects of Public Spending in Education." AEA RCT Registry. February 07.
Experimental Details


The study was initiated by the Government of Punjab as a pilot program of grants to public schools administered through school-level bodies called school councils. The program had two components -- providing grants to schools and revitalizing school councils. The school grant portion of the program provided public schools with a large, fungible infusion of cash (equivalent to almost 15% of a typical school's operating budget). Under the program, schools created a list of their needs working with a well-established and highly reputable NGO, the National Rural Support Program (NRSP), and submitted funding requests to the district.

The school councils component of the program reflected a revised 2007 policy that encouraged more frequent meetings and required greater inclusion of parents with children enrolled in the school, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. School councils were required to work with NRSP and were also encouraged to discuss teacher attendance and performance, child attendance and dropout, as well as general problems faced by the school in regular meetings. Of particular interest is that the policy specifically allowed and encouraged councils to hire additional teachers on a temporary basis.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Average school-level grade 4 student test scores, primary school enrollment, private school fees, number of private schools in a village, number of private schools opening in a village, likelihood of a private school closing
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Student test scores: norm-referenced tests in math, English, and Urdu (the vernacular) that were created and validated by the research team. Following \cite{das2010india}, tests were scored and equated using item response theory. Enrollment: sum of the number of students in each grade (grades 1-5). Private school fees: annual school fees as reported by the school owner. School opening: number of private schools that opened during the intervention period (2007-2011). School closing: outcome is an indicator equal to one if a school closed during the intervention period.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
At the school level: log student-teacher ratio, number of contract teachers, proportion of teachers with a Bachelor's degree or above, proportion of teachers with some teacher training, log teacher salary, school facilities indices.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The sample is drawn from two districts in Punjab, Pakistan: Attock and Faisalabad. All villages in the sample had at least one private school. Following an intention to treat protocol, the government and NRSP would implement the program in at least 80% of the villages that were identified as ``treatment'' in these two districts and would not implement the program in the villages that were identified as control. Eighty sample villages were selected from a sample list of a larger project, the Learning and Educational Achievements in Pakistani Schools (LEAPS) and half were randomly assigned to treatment, stratified at the district-level. Every village in our sample is a closed educational market with schools' potential competitors and household's potential choice sets clearly defined.

Data were collected each year for four years from 2003-2004 to 2006-2007, and then again in 2011. Data collection in each round included school-based surveys and household surveys. In every year of data collection, a list of all schools within a 15 minute walk from the perimeter of the village was compiled and school entry or exit was recorded. Then, data were collected from each school from all teachers and the school principal/owner, and children were tested using low-stakes tests.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
80 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
460 schools
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
40 villages treatment, 40 villages control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Study has received IRB approval. Details not available.
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
Details not available


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
March 31, 2011, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
December 31, 2011, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
80 villages
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
428 schools
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
40 villages treatment, 40 villages control
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

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Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials