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The Future in Mind: Aspirations and Forward-Looking Behaviour in the Short and Long Run in Rural Ethiopia
Last registered on February 14, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Future in Mind: Aspirations and Forward-Looking Behaviour in the Short and Long Run in Rural Ethiopia
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001483
Initial registration date
February 14, 2017
Last updated
February 14, 2017 9:36 PM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Oxford
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Oxford
PI Affiliation
University of Bordeaux/IFPRI
PI Affiliation
IFPRI
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2010-09-01
End date
2016-03-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Poor people often do not make investments, even when returns are high. One possible explanation is that they have low aspirations and form ideas of their future opportunities which ignore some options for investment. We outcome our plan to test this hypothesis through a field experiment to identify the effects of a documentary screening intervention.

This study is a two-level cluster-randomized controlled trial. We randomly selected villages in a remote district in rural Ethiopia. We assign them to pure control or to receive one of two village-level treatments. Then within villages, we selected a random sample of 18 households and assigned them to three groups. A treatment group were randomly invited to watch documentaries. A placebo group in each village watched an Ethiopian entertainment programme and a control group were simply surveyed.

In addition, the number of people treated was varied by village to assess the importance of peer effects in formation of aspirations. We conduct follow-ups in 64 villages after 6 months and in all 84 villages after five years.

In this pre-analysis plan, we describe analysis on data collected via face-to-face household surveys in 2010 (baseline), immediately after screenings in 2010 (midline 1), after six months in 2011 (midline 2), and after five years in 2015 (endline) and through surveys with the kebele (village) leader at baseline and endline. We also use administrative data at village level collected before our baseline.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Bernard, Tanguy et al. 2017. "The Future in Mind: Aspirations and Forward-Looking Behaviour in the Short and Long Run in Rural Ethiopia." AEA RCT Registry. February 14. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1483/history/14043
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Interventions are detailed in a working paper on the midline results: https://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/workingpapers/pdfs/csae-wps-2014-16.pdf
The documentaries, with English subtitles, and one of four placebo segments are at https://
www.youtube.com/channel/UCqfoNjCzt8YPjTRWQaMQfAg.
Intervention Start Date
2010-09-01
Intervention End Date
2010-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
See attached pre-analysis plan
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
See attached pre-analysis plan
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Design is detailed in a working paper on the midline results: https://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/workingpapers/pdfs/csae-wps-2014-16.pdf
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Village-level randomization done in office by a computer. Within-village randomisation done by public lottery within the village.
Randomization Unit
The first level of randomisation was at village level. 20 of the 84 villages were assigned to be pure control villages. The remaining randomly chosen 64 villages were grouped into 16 screening sites with four neighbouring villages in each site. In each screening site of four villages, we randomly assigned two villages to be "intense treatment" villages and the other two to be "intense placebo" villages.

The second level of randomisation was at household level. In all villages, the enumerators compiled a list of all households. In the pure control villages, they randomly selected approximately 15 households to be surveyed. In the "intense treatment" and "intense placebo" villages, they randomly selected 18 households and randomly assigned 6 households to each of the treatment, placebo and within-village spillover groups. Randomisation was at household level, so household heads and their spouses had the same treatment status.

In addition, in the “intense treatment" villages, we randomly selected 18 additional households (roughly 36 individuals) to be invited to the documentary but did not survey these
individuals. In the “intense placebo" villages, we similarly randomly selected 18 additional
households to be invited to the placebo session.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
84 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
Baseline: 2,115 individuals. Endline: dependent on attrition, but potentially up to 2,746 individuals.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
20 of the 84 villages were assigned to be pure control villages. In the pure control villages, we randomly selected approximately 15 households to be surveyed.

The remaining randomly chosen 64 villages were grouped into 16 screening sites with four neighbouring villages in each site. In each screening site of four villages, we randomly assigned two villages to be "intense treatment" villages and the other two to be "intense placebo" villages. In the "intense treatment" and "intense placebo" villages, we randomly selected 18 households and randomly assigned 6 households to each of the treatment, placebo and within-village control groups. In addition, in the "intense treatment" villages, we randomly selected 18 additional households (roughly 36 individuals, or 1,152 individuals in total) to be invited to the documentary but did not survey these individuals. In the "intense placebo" villages, we similarly randomly selected 18 additional (non-surveyed) households to be invited to the placebo session.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Social Sciences & Humanities Inter-Divisional Research Ethics Committee, University of Oxford
IRB Approval Date
2010-08-23
IRB Approval Number
SSD/CUREC1A/10-074
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
December 31, 2010, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
March 01, 2016, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
84 clusters total.
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Observed in all three rounds: in treated villages, treatment 618, placebo 644, within-village spillover 636; in pure control villages 631.
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
84 total, 20 pure control, 32 intense treatment, 32 intense placebo.
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No

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Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
Poor people often do not make investments, even when returns are high. One possible explanation is that they have low aspirations and form mental models of their future opportunities which ignore some options for investment. This paper reports on a field experiment to test this hypothesis in rural Ethiopia. Individuals were randomly invited to watch documentaries about people from similar communities who had succeeded in agriculture or business, without help from government or NGOs. A placebo group watched an Ethiopian entertainment programme and a control group were simply surveyed. In addition, the number of people invited was varied by village to assess the importance of peer effects in formation of aspirations. Six months after screening, aspirations had improved among treated individuals and did not change in the placebo or control groups. Treatment effects were larger for those with higher pre-treatment aspirations. We also find treatment effects on savings, use of credit, children’s school enrolment and spending on children’s schooling, suggesting that changes in aspirations can translate into changes in a range of forward-looking behaviours. There are also treatment effects on measures from psychology and sociology, including locus of control, which theory predicts should behave in similar ways to aspirations. Most effects are robust to corrections for multiple testing. Peer effects result in further impact on educational spending and induce more work and less leisure. The result that a one-hour documentary shown six months earlier induces actual behavioural change suggests a challenging, promising avenue for further research and poverty-related interventions.
Citation
Bernard, T., S. Dercon, K. Orkin, and A. S. Taffesse. 2014. “The Future in Mind: Aspirations and Forward-Looking Behaviour in Rural Ethiopia.” Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development Working Paper 429: 1–42.
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