Testing Legislator Responsiveness to Citizens and Firms in the Vietnamese National Assembly: A Field Experiment

Last registered on December 08, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Testing Legislator Responsiveness to Citizens and Firms in the Vietnamese National Assembly: A Field Experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001608
Initial registration date
September 22, 2016
Last updated
December 08, 2021, 9:09 PM EST

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Duke University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Duke University
PI Affiliation
Duke University
PI Affiliation
Indiana University - Bloomington, School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2016-10-01
End date
2018-12-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
A legislature capable of making laws broadly reflective of societal interests is a cornerstone for both development and democracy. Recognizing this fact, development agencies have invested millions in legislative strengthening initiatives around the developing world to develop legislative research capacities and provide legislators with information crucial to decision-making. At the same time, authoritarian regimes around the globe have adopted or revived institutions traditionally associated with democracy, primary among them the elected legislature. What remains unclear, however, is whether legislative strengthening initiatives in the authoritarian context induce greater responsiveness to societal interests, as intended. When properly informed of constituent preferences, to whom are authoritarian legislators more responsive - the citizenry or local firms? Is responsiveness improved at all?

Utilizing a randomized control trial (RCT), our project aims to establish whether targeted provision of constituent preferences increases the responsiveness of delegates to the Vietnamese National Assembly (VNA). In the first stage, we assign legislators to one of three groups: (1) those receiving infographics about the preferences of citizens within their province; (2) those receiving infographics about the preferences of local firms; and (3) a control group receiving no treatment. Because delegates caucus by provincial delegations prior to floor debates, the second stage of the RCT is a dose-response design in which we assign each province a treatment dosage, i.e. the fraction of delegates from a province receiving an informational treatment. Following the provincial caucus, we survey legislators about their views and the views of their constituents regarding the upcoming education law; delegate responsiveness to constituents is measured via dosage-interacted responses to a survey administered by the VNA library. We measure the responsiveness of delegates at the provincial level through mentions of the informational treatment during (1) internal, pre-debate provincial caucuses, and (2) VNA floor debates.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Le, Anh et al. 2021. "Testing Legislator Responsiveness to Citizens and Firms in the Vietnamese National Assembly: A Field Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. December 08. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1608-4.0
Former Citation
Le, Anh et al. 2021. "Testing Legislator Responsiveness to Citizens and Firms in the Vietnamese National Assembly: A Field Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. December 08. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1608/history/105946
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2018-05-01
Intervention End Date
2018-08-31

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
From delegate survey (at individual level, as interacted with dosage level):
Outcome 1: Whether a delegate has made up her mind.
Outcome 2: Whether a delegate cites lack of information regarding the preferences of citizens or businesses as the reason her mind is not yet made up. Lack of citation indicates greater responsiveness, and we will code it as such. Responsiveness=0 if delegate cites lack of information on constituency important in decision; Responsiveness=1 if delegate does not cite lack of constituency information.

From provincial caucus minutes (at provincial level):
Outcome 3: Whether any delegate (from a province) mentions the infographics, the statistics presented therein, or constituency opinions about educational quality.
Outcome 4: The number of times any delegate mentions the infographics, accompanying statistics, or constituency opinions about educational quality.

From floor debate transcripts (at provincial level):
Outcome 5: Whether any delegate (from a province) mentions the infographics, accompanying statistics, or constituency opinions about educational quality.
Outcome 6: The number of times any delegate mentions the infographics, accompanying statistics, or constituency opinions about educational quality.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Utilizing a randomized control trial (RCT), our project aims to establish whether targeted provision of constituent preferences increases the responsiveness of delegates to the Vietnamese National Assembly (VNA). In the first stage, we assign legislators to one of three groups: (1) those receiving infographics about the preferences of citizens within their province; (2) those receiving infographics about the preferences of local firms; and (3) a control group receiving no treatment. Because delegates caucus by provincial delegations prior to floor debates, the second stage of the RCT is a dose-response design in which we assign each province a treatment dosage, i.e. the fraction of delegates from a province receiving an informational treatment. Following the provincial caucus, we survey legislators about their views and the views of their constituents regarding the upcoming education law; delegate responsiveness to constituents is measured via dosage-interacted responses to a survey administered by the VNA library. We measure the responsiveness of delegates at the provincial level through mentions of the informational treatment during (1) internal, pre-debate provincial caucuses, and (2) VNA floor debates.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization is conducted by an R script run at the investigators' home institution.
Randomization Unit
Provinces will be assigned to 0%, 50%, or 100% treatment on the basis of stratification variables (including GDPpc, fiscal transfers, delegation size, and summary statistics for individual-level variables). Within each province, delegates will be assigned to firm/citizen/control treatments on the basis of dichotomous stratification variables: nomination status, full-time status, electoral competitiveness.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
0 clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
471 delegates (490 active delegates minus 19 Politburo Standing Committee members)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
APPROXIMATE GOAL: 189 (40%) control, 141 (30%) firms' preferences, and 141 (30%) citizens' preferences.
ACTUAL SIZES: 181 control, 144 firms' preferences, and 146 citizens' preferences.
Differences due to the identities of those provinces (each with differing delegation sizes) assigned to each dosage level (0%, 50%, or 100%).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Duke University Institutional Review Board for Non-Medical Research
IRB Approval Date
2016-05-31
IRB Approval Number
D0671
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
Yes

Program Files

Program Files
Yes
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Abstract
We investigate whether communicating constituents’ preferences to legislators increases the responsiveness of delegates to the Vietnamese National Assembly (VNA). Using a randomized control trial, we assign legislators to three groups: (1) those briefed on the opinions of their provincial citizenry, (2) those presented with the preferences of local firms, and (3) those receiving only information on the Communist Party’s objectives. Because voting data are not public, we collect data on a range of other potentially responsive behaviors during the 2018 session. These include answers to a VNA Library survey about debate readiness; whether delegates spoke in group caucuses, query sessions, and floor debates; and the content of those speeches. We find consistent evidence that citizen-treated delegates were more responsive, via debate preparation and the decision to speak, than control delegates; evidence from speech content is mixed.
Citation
Todd, Jason Douglas, Edmund J. Malesky, Anh Tran, and Quoc Anh Le. 2021. "Testing Legislator Responsiveness to Citizens and Firms in Single-Party Regimes: A Field Experiment in the Vietnamese National Assembly." The Journal of Politics 83(4): 1573-1588.
Abstract
This research note builds upon recent experimental work in the Vietnamese National Assembly to explore a critical quali fication regarding responsiveness in authoritarian parliaments: delegates grow increasingly responsive as the number of peers possessing the same information rises. We suggest that this reinforcement, or "safety-in-numbers," effect arises because speaking in authoritarian assemblies is an intrinsically dangerous task, and delegates are reluctant to do so without confi dence in the information they would present. Here we describe the saturation design for the original experiment, theorize safety-in-numbers behavior among authoritarian legislators, and test an additional observable implication of the logic. Consistent with the safety-in-numbers logic, we find that the effects of reinforcement are greater in televised floor speeches than closed-door caucuses.
Citation
Malesky, Edmund J., and Jason Douglas Todd. Forthcoming. "Experimentally Estimating Safety in Numbers in a Single-Party Legislature." The Journal of Politics.

Reports & Other Materials