NEW UPDATE: Completed trials may now upload and register supplementary documents (e.g. null results reports, populated pre-analysis plans, or post-trial results reports) in the Post Trial section under Reports, Papers, & Other Materials.
Intergenerational Conflict and Schooling Decisions in Brazil
Initial registration date
November 04, 2016
November 04, 2016 1:57 PM EDT
University of Chicago
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Ohio State University
Additional Trial Information
This paper experimentally analyzes the schooling decisions of poor households in urban Brazil. We elicit parents' choices between monthly government transfers conditional on their adolescent child attending school and guaranteed, unconditional transfers of varying sizes. In the baseline treatment, an overwhelming majority of parents prefer conditional transfers to larger unconditional transfers. However, few parents prefer conditional payments if they are offered text message notifications whenever their child misses school. These findings suggest important intergenerational conflicts in these schooling decisions, a lack of parental control and observability of school attendance, and an additional rationale for conditional cash transfer programs - the monitoring they provide.
Parents were assigned to one of four treatment groups: baseline, text-message, don't tell, or non-classroom. In the baseline treatment, the parent was asked to choose between his or her current CCT (base value) and an unconditional Cash Transfer (CT) of increasing size, until he or she made the switch. The parent was then asked the same questions with the UCT held at base value and the CCT increasing. Parents were informed that 5 percent of participants would have one of their decisions implemented, and that the decision would be randomly chosen from the 25 questions. In the baseline treatment, the child would be informed of any change in conditionality. All subsequent treatments are indentical to the baseline except for the factors described below. In the text message treatment, before eliciting a parent's choice between CCT and CT, the parent is offered free cell phone text messages every time their child misses school (a monitoring technology), regardless of the parent's choice. In the don't tell treatment, children would not be informed about any program change, and thus would not know whether the conditionality had been removed. In the non-classroom treatment, the conditionality would now be on whether the child was present on school grounds during the day, with no obligation to attend classes. This was implemented to potentially observe how parents value the non-classroom content of school, such as keeping the child off the streets.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Willingness to pay for conditionality of the cash transfer
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Measured through the amount of income families were willing to forgo to keep the conditionality, and by the percent of families that switched from conditional to unconditional transfers.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
This study used the setup of an existing local conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, Bolsa-Escola Vida Melhor, in which families received large monthly transfers conditional on their children attending school 85% of the days per month. In the experiment, researchers offered parents the opportunity to switch to unconditional monthly transfers, and were able to estimate parents' willingness-to-pay to keep the conditionally, based on the level where parents' switched preferences. They study aimed to understand, from parents' choices, the decision-making process leading to schooling choices within households.
Experimental Design Details
Families invited to the experiment were randomly chosen among those enrolled in the Bolsa-Escola program. First, four districts were randomly chosen within all of the school districts in Brasilia. Second, within each chosen district, a number of schools were randomly chosen. Finally, within each chosen school, a number of students were randomly chosen. Families were sent a letter asking them to participate in a study, and when families arrived at the experiment, they were randomly assigned a treatment group. 87% of families who were sent a letter attended the experiment. The randomization was based on the last two digits of the parent's Cadastro de Pessoa Fisica (akin to a Social Security number in the United States).
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Baseline treatment: 60 families
Text-message treatment: 51 families
Don't tell treatment: 47 families
Non-classroom treatment: 52 families
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Harvard Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number
Details not available
Post Trial Information
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
July 31, 2009, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
July 31, 2009, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
208 families (two families left the experiment before their children were surveyed)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
208 families, with both a parent and a child surveyed from each family
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
The Schooling Decision: Family Preferences, Intergenerational Conflict, and Moral Hazard in the Brazilian Favelas
Bursztyn, Leonardo and Lucas Coffman. 2012. "The Schooling Decision: Family Preferences, Intergenerational Conflict, and Moral Hazard in the Brazilian Favelas." Journal of Political Economy 120(3): 359-397.
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS