Paternalism, Giving, and Incorrect Beliefs: Lab-in-Field experiment

Last registered on March 21, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Paternalism, Giving, and Incorrect Beliefs: Lab-in-Field experiment
Initial registration date
March 21, 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
March 21, 2023, 4:59 PM EDT

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


Primary Investigator

Harvard University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Cash transfers are a common and effective means of combating poverty, yet their adoption is limited by concerns that some recipients of -transfers will mis-use the transfer by spending some of it inappropriately. Voters and charitable donors may thus prefer restricting the transfers to a limited set of purchases even when this restriction is costly. In this experiment, we examine whether potential transfer recipients themselves would prefer to restrict the transfers received by others. We sample 600 low-income households in rural Kenya who make incentivized decisions between an unrestricted voucher that can make purchases at local shops and a restricted voucher that can make all the same purchases except alcohol or cigarettes. Half the sample receives information: the share of prior recipients in our study who redeemed part of their voucher for alcohol or cigarettes. Our primary analysis will focus on whether the information shifts beliefs about future mis-use of transfers and whether it shifts the choice to impose costly restrictions. A secondary analysis compares the participants' willingness to tolerate costs for restricting others' transfers against their willingness to restrict their own transfer.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Hickman, Peter. 2023. "Paternalism, Giving, and Incorrect Beliefs: Lab-in-Field experiment." AEA RCT Registry. March 21.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The willingness to pay for a restriction.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Posterior beliefs about the share of future recipients who will spend some of transfer on alcohol or tobacco.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Half of recipients receive information about the percentage of prior transfer recipients who spent at least some of their transfer on alcohol or tobacco. We measure the effect of this information on the willingness to pay to restrict future recipients' transfers so that they cannot purchase alcohol or tobacco.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Done in office by computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
600 people
Sample size: planned number of observations
600 people
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
300 people per treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology Institutional Ethical Review Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB Name
Harvard University-Area Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials