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Private Information and the Allocation of Land Use Subsidies in Malawi
Last registered on December 10, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Private Information and the Allocation of Land Use Subsidies in Malawi
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001207
Initial registration date
December 10, 2016
Last updated
December 10, 2016 4:09 PM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
UC Santa Barbara
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2008-01-01
End date
2011-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Efficient targeting of public programs is difficult when the cost or benefit to potential recipients is private information. This study illustrates the potential of self-selection to improve allocational outcomes in the context of a program that subsidizes tree planting in Malawi. Landholders who received a tree planting contract as a result of bidding in an auction kept significantly more trees alive over a three year period than did landholders who received the contract through a lottery. The gains from targeting on private information through the auction represent a 30 percent cost savings per surviving tree for the implementing organization.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Jack, Kelsey. 2016. "Private Information and the Allocation of Land Use Subsidies in Malawi." AEA RCT Registry. December 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1207-1.0.
Former Citation
Jack, Kelsey. 2016. "Private Information and the Allocation of Land Use Subsidies in Malawi." AEA RCT Registry. December 10. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1207/history/12339.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The study sought to determine whether self-selection into a tree-planting program could increase the number of surviving trees. The program required participating farmers to plant 50 seedlings on half an acre of their own land. ICRAF distributed the seedlings, trained farmers, and monitored tree survival at regular intervals—six months, one year, two years, and three years after the start of the program. Farmers were compensated based on the number of trees that were still alive at each inspection.

There were two different selection methods: auction and lottery. In the auction group, participants submitted bids for the minimum compensation for which they would participate in the program. Sealed bids were collected and ranked on the spot to determine the auction clearing price based on the available budget and the first rejected bid. Participants in the lottery group were told the take-it or leave-it price, based on the auction clearing price (but were not informed about the source of the price).The lottery was conducted among those participants who were willing to accept this price.
Intervention Start Date
2008-01-01
Intervention End Date
2011-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Tree survival
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Trees were counted during monitoring visits made at six months, one, two and three years.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The study sample was collected from a census of 472 households in 23 villages conducted by ICRAF. Households reporting less than one acre of private land in the baseline survey were ineligible for contracting and were excluded from the randomization. Treatment groups were assigned using a simple random draw. All households were invited to the allocation process and upon arrival were separated into their preassigned treatment groups. The contract details were explained in identical fashion to both groups after which the auction group was explained the details of the auction and lottery group the details of the lotter process. 85 households selected into the auction arm and 91 households were selected into the lottery arm.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Two stage randomization: first, using baseline survey data, households were randomly assigned (by computer) to one of the allocation mechanisms (treatments), and second, households in the lottery treatment who accepted the posted price were drawn from a "hat" in public.
Randomization Unit
Individual participant
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Study not clustered
Sample size: planned number of observations
472 households were invited to participate; 433 participated in the allocation stage; 176 were awarded contracts
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Number of households participating in each arm (awarded contracts in each arm):
Lottery: 228 (91) households
Auction: 205 (85) households
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Tufts University
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
1109009
IRB Name
Harvard University
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
F16307
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
December 31, 2011, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
December 31, 2011, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Study not clustered
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
472
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
NA
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Yes
Program Files
Program Files
Yes
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
Abstract
PRIVATE INFORMATION AND THE ALLOCATION OF LAND USE SUBSIDIES IN MALAWI

Efficient targeting of public programs is difficult when the cost or benefit to potential recipients is private information. This study illustrates the potential of self-selection to improve allocational outcomes in the context of a program that subsidizes tree planting in Malawi. Landholders who received a tree planting contract as a result of bidding in an auction kept significantly more trees alive over a three year period than did landholders who received the contract through a lottery. The gains from targeting on private information through the auction represent a 30 percent cost savings per surviving tree for the implementing organization.
Citation
Jack, B Kelsey. 2013. "Private Information and the Allocation of Land Use Subsidies in Malawi." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 5(3): 113-35.
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS