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Does Development Aid Undermine Political Accountability in Bangladesh?
Last registered on August 27, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Does Development Aid Undermine Political Accountability in Bangladesh?
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001502
Initial registration date
August 27, 2016
Last updated
August 27, 2016 11:34 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Yale University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Maryland
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2011-01-01
End date
2013-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We study political economy responses to a large scale intervention in Bangladesh, where
four sub-districts consisting of 100 villages (12,000 households) were randomly assigned
to control, information or subsidy treatments to encourage investments in improved
sanitation. In theory, leaders may endogenously respond to large interventions by
changing their allocation of effort, and their constituents’ views about the leader may
rationally change as a result. In one intervention where the leaders’ role in program
allocation was not clear to constituents, constituents appear to attribute credit to their
local leader for a randomly assigned program. However, when subsidy assignment
is clearly and transparently random, the lottery winners do not attribute any extra
credit to the politician relative to lottery losers. The theory can rationalize these
observations if we model leaders’ actions and constituent reactions under imperfect
information about leader ability. A third intervention returns to program villages to
inform a subset of subsidy recipients that the program was run by NGOs using external
funds. This eliminates the excess credit that leaders received from treated households
after the first intervention. These results suggest that while politicians may try to take
credit for development programs, it is not easy for them do so. Political accountability
is not easily undermined by development aid.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Guiteras, Raymond and Ahmed Mobarak. 2016. "Does Development Aid Undermine Political Accountability in Bangladesh?." AEA RCT Registry. August 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1502-1.0.
Former Citation
Guiteras, Raymond and Ahmed Mobarak. 2016. "Does Development Aid Undermine Political Accountability in Bangladesh?." AEA RCT Registry. August 27. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1502/history/10434.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2011-01-01
Intervention End Date
2013-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Satisfaction with UP providing sanitation, Interactions with UP chair, Citizen satisfaction and politician response by lottery outcome, Round 2, Heterogeneity by Union, Round 2, Impact of information treatment on perception of local politicians.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
An implicit assumption in the argument that aid undermines political accountability is that constituents are systematically and consistently fooled: that they mistakenly believe that their local leaders are responsible for the aid program, and give them undeserved credit. This project tested this assumption in the context of a large-scale randomized intervention in rural Bangladesh using two sanitation interventions and two information treatments.

The sanitation intervention consisted of two main components. The first component, called the Latrine Promotion Program, consisted of a multi-day community exercise designed to raise awareness of the problems caused by open defecation and non-hygienic latrines. For the second component, eligible households received sanitation subsidies which covered part of the cost of building a hygienic latrine.

For the information treatments, households were informed about the source of the sanitation intervention. One group of households were treated using the "implicit" script, which informed them that the intervention had been part of a research project, but did not explicitly say anything about the role of local leaders. A second group of households were treated using the "explicit" script, which explicitly stated that villages had received benefits on the basis of a lottery and that the government had not played any role in funding the intervention nor in selecting villages.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Sanitation Intervention:

The treatments (Control, LPP Only, and LPP + Subsidy), were randomized at the village
level. The sample of 97 villages was allocated in the following proportions: 0.21 to Control;
0.13 to LPP Only; 0.66 to LPP + Subsidy. LPP + Subsidy was over-weighted because it
contained several sub-treatments of interest to the demand study. To avoid imbalance in the
number of neighborhoods, villages were stratified by the number of neighborhoods, below
median (1-2 neighborhoods) vs. above median (3 or more neighborhoods).


Information Treatments:

The randomization of the Information Treatments was conducted at two levels, first at the
neighborhood level and then within neighborhood at the household level. At the neighborhood
level, we allocated 60% of first-round Treatment neighborhoods to IT Explicit, 20%
to IT Implicit and 20% to IT Control.


(Detailed information about randomization methods can be found in the paper cited at the end of this registry entry)
Randomization Unit
Treatments were randomized at the village level and implemented at the neighborhood level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
97 villages, 346 neighborhoods
Sample size: planned number of observations
16,603 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
(See section above on "Randomization Method")
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
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
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
December 31, 2013, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
December 31, 2013, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
(Same as planned)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
(Same as planned)
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
(Same as planned)
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
We study political economy responses to a large scale intervention in Bangladesh, where
four sub-districts consisting of 100 villages (12,000 households) were randomly assigned
to control, information or subsidy treatments to encourage investments in improved
sanitation. In theory, leaders may endogenously respond to large interventions by
changing their allocation of effort, and their constituents’ views about the leader may
rationally change as a result. In one intervention where the leaders’ role in program
allocation was not clear to constituents, constituents appear to attribute credit to their
local leader for a randomly assigned program. However, when subsidy assignment
is clearly and transparently random, the lottery winners do not attribute any extra
credit to the politician relative to lottery losers. The theory can rationalize these
observations if we model leaders’ actions and constituent reactions under imperfect
information about leader ability. A third intervention returns to program villages to
inform a subset of subsidy recipients that the program was run by NGOs using external
funds. This eliminates the excess credit that leaders received from treated households
after the first intervention. These results suggest that while politicians may try to take
credit for development programs, it is not easy for them do so. Political accountability
is not easily undermined by development aid.
Citation
Guiteras, Raymond, and Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak. “Does Development Aid Undermine Political Accountability? Leader and Constituent Responses to a Large-Scale Intervention.” Working Paper, March 2014.