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Establishing Responsive Linkages between Politicians and Voters
Last registered on July 03, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Establishing Responsive Linkages between Politicians and Voters
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002278
Initial registration date
July 03, 2017
Last updated
July 03, 2017 2:53 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
UCLA
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
UCLA
PI Affiliation
Stanford University
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2017-07-01
End date
2019-07-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We partner with provincial legislators in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan to test whether integrated voice response (IVR) technology can springboard communication between politicians and voters and thereby improve accountability, responsiveness, and development. IVR allows politicians to record messages in their own voice and deliver them via robocalls; citizens can then respond to questions posed by pressing keys on their phones. The first stage of the experiment randomizes politician robocalls and elicitation of voter preferences. Stage two provides aggregated citizen preferences to the politicians, and randomizes a responsive call from the politician that is either generic or specific to the feedback received. We examine if either or both of these stages improve citizen trust in and engagement with government, political efficacy, support for the politician, and ability to sanction poorly performing representatives. The experiment offers legislators a direct channel to voters, bypassing traditional local elites and reducing the need for corruption and vote-buying. It also nudges voters to attend to legislator performance. We work with 10 legislators randomly selected from those who express willingness in 30 polling station areas per legislator, randomly selecting 25 male heads of households per polling station area. We randomly select another 10 legislators as controls.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Golden, Miriam, Saad Gulzar and Luke Sonnet. 2017. "Establishing Responsive Linkages between Politicians and Voters." AEA RCT Registry. July 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2278-1.0.
Former Citation
Golden, Miriam, Saad Gulzar and Luke Sonnet. 2017. "Establishing Responsive Linkages between Politicians and Voters." AEA RCT Registry. July 03. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2278/history/19151.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
In the first stage, we randomize integrated voice response robo-calls from the politician to voters in his constituency. In the second stage, we present politicians the aggregated responses of citizens and then randomize the type of response from the politician back to the voters. We repeat this over several months to create a new channel of communication between a politician and his constituents.

Politicians individually script their own calls, with our assistance. The calls consist of questions about upcoming decisions that the politician has to make, his recent activities, and requests for feedback on both parliamentary and constituent affairs. Feedback can be given using the touch pad or through recorded messages to the politician.
Intervention Start Date
2017-08-01
Intervention End Date
2018-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Measures of voter efficacy, politician effort, accountability, and voting behavior.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We randomize our intervention at three levels: the politician level, the polling station level, and the household level.

At the politician level, we randomize whether or not a politician has access to the new technology. From a list of provincial parliamentarians with whom we are able to collaborate, we select 20 politicians to be in the treated group who we will work with over the course of this intervention and sort 20 politicians into a control condition.

For each treated politician, we randomly select 5 polling station areas in his constituency where we carry out the intervention. In these polling stations, we collect phone numbers at baseline and then place robo-calls and collect feedback from constituents. In control polling station areas, we carry out no activities at the level of voters. We split our 5 treated polling station areas into two groups: 3 high saturation and 2 low saturation polling stations. In high saturation polling stations, we survey 50% of households in our baseline and treat a subset of those. In low saturation polling station areas, we survey 25% of the households in our baseline. This saturation design allows us to test for spillover effects of our intervention.

Within treated polling station areas, we treat roughly 60% of the sampled households. For example, this means in the high saturation polling stations (where we sample 50% of the households), we end up treating a total of 30% of the households in that polling station area. In the low saturation polling stations (where we sample 25% of the households), we end up treating a total of 15% of the households in that polling station area. At the individual level, we randomize: (1) the number of messages they receive; (2) the types of questions they are asked; (3) whether they give no feedback, feedback just using their touch pad, or recorded feedback; and (3) how responsive the MPA is to their feedback in the form of a follow up robo-call or personalized message.

Because our respondents are all male heads of households, but women vote in separate polling stations, we can also measure intra-household spillover by examining outcomes at female-only polling stations in treated and control areas.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomizations using computer.
Randomization Unit
Some treatments will be administered at the politician level, some at the polling station level, and some at the household level. We randomize at all three levels.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
We put 20 politicians into treatment and 20 into control; treating 5 polling stations per politician; treating roughly 75 or 150 households per polling station area.
Sample size: planned number of observations
20 treated politicians and a variable number of control politicians depending on the outcome, 100 treated and a variable number of control polling stations depending on the outcome, and 12,000 male heads of household.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
20 treated politicians and a variable number of control politicians depending on the outcome, 100 treated and a variable number of control polling stations depending on the outcome, and 12,000 male heads of household divided among several treatment arms.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of California Los Angeles, Office of the Human Research Protection Program
IRB Approval Date
2017-06-19
IRB Approval Number
17-000182-AM-00002
IRB Name
Because our respondents are all male heads of households, but women vote in separate polling stations, we can also measure intra-household spillover by examining outcomes at female-only polling stations in treated and control areas.
IRB Approval Date
2017-03-01
IRB Approval Number
17-000182-AM-00001
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers