Government Mobile Salary Payments in Afghanistan

Last registered on April 25, 2018


Trial Information

General Information

Government Mobile Salary Payments in Afghanistan
Initial registration date
November 10, 2016

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 10, 2016, 5:28 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
April 25, 2018, 11:13 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

London School of Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
PI Affiliation
University of California Berkeley
PI Affiliation
Washington University of St. Louis

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Governments must pay their employees for states to function. Frequent delays and leakage of salary payments can undermine government effectiveness. These problems are severe in Afghanistan. Mobile Salary Payments (MSPs) - a system enabling employees to receive their salaries directly via mobile money -present a potential solution. At scale, MSPs can also grow the mobile money ecosystem and promote financial inclusion. We propose a randomized control evaluation of MSPs with the Ministry of Education for a sample of approximately 200,000 teachers. We also propose to evaluate an additional Call Detail Record (CDR)-based attendance monitoring system that will complement the MSPs.

Registration Citation

Blumenstock, Joshua et al. 2018. "Government Mobile Salary Payments in Afghanistan." AEA RCT Registry. April 25.
Former Citation
Blumenstock, Joshua et al. 2018. "Government Mobile Salary Payments in Afghanistan." AEA RCT Registry. April 25.
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Experimental Details


This study aims to investigate the implementation of mobile salary payments (MSPs) in the Ministry of Education (MoE). Prior to assignment, all teachers in the study will receive a mobile phone.

1) Mobile Salary Payments (MSP): Funds will go directly from the central bank to the mobile network operator (MNO). The MNO will then transfer salaries directly to the teacher. This payment method skips mediation through New Kabul Bank and the bursar, which may reduce leakage.
2) MSP + Direct Attendance Reporting: The MSP treatment stated above, plus the collection of highly granular data on teacher attendance. This teacher attendance data will be made available to the Minister of Education and the Office of the President through an online dashboard.
3) Current Payment System (Control): School principals report teacher attendance. Teachers visit the local bursar and are paid in cash.

The essential steps of the current payment system are detailed below:

Step 1: The school principal reports teacher attendance to the district-level bursar (Motamed) on a monthly basis.
Step 2: The bursar and the district human resources officer aggregate attendance for all district schools and submit a wage bill to the National Treasury.
Step 3: The Treasury authorizes a payment for the national monthly wage bill to Da Afghanistan Bank.
Step 4: Da Afghanistan Bank transfers a payment for all wages to the central branch of New Kabul Bank.
Step 5: New Kabul Bank transfers funds to the branch nearest to each bursar, charging a transaction fee for the transfer.
Step 6: The bursar retrieves the funds from their nearest bank branch. Step 7: Teachers visit the bursar at the end of the month to retrieve their wages as cash.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
corruption, teacher attendance, teacher absenteeism
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Corruption: mobile money logs are reviewed to determine if bursars are extracting a smaller amount of teachers’ salaries as a result of MSPs

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Treatment is randomly assigned at the district level. Of the 396 districts in Afghanistan, approximately 340 are safe to conduct interviews (though this number varies widely from month to month). Five or 6 schools per district will be sampled. Prior to assignment, all employees in the study will be given a phone and will be enrolled in the MSP program. However, we will delay the period between receiving the phone and receiving payments (the enrollment process will take at least 3 months given the number of teachers). baseline and endline data collection exercises will comprise 2100 audits and teacher interviews per round. The baseline and endline audits and interviews in 700 schools in each treatment arm will be sampled from an MoE census of schools. The sample is representative of rural and peri-urban schools, excluding urban schools were teachers are paid via electronic bank transfer.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization performed by a computer
Randomization Unit
340 districts
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
340 districts
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,100 schools
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
113 districts (700 schools) MSP treatment, 113 districts (700 schools) MSP + monitoring treatment, 113 districts (700 schools) control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We will sample 5 or 6 schools per district. We will be able to estimate standardized treatment effects of 0.19 standard deviations between any two treatment arms (166 districts,1400 schools) with 80 percent probability.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Government Mobile Salary Payments in Afghanistan
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials