Learning accountability: Can formal education help hold politicians to account?
Last registered on March 26, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Learning accountability: Can formal education help hold politicians to account?
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002324
Initial registration date
July 13, 2017
Last updated
March 26, 2018 2:39 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Columbia University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
Columbia University
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2017-07-04
End date
2017-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Effective democratic representation is closely connected to economic development, good governance, and political stability. However, accountability is often limited in the developing contexts where it is needed most. In light of the mixed evidence that information dissemination campaigns can support electoral accountability, we explore whether education complements or substitutes for information provision in pursuing this goal. To assess these claims, we are conducting a panel survey in Senegal around the July 2017 national legislative elections. Our design nests two sources of exogenous variation: quasi-experimental variation in access to free secondary schooling and randomized individual-level provision of legislator duty and performance information before the election. Such variation enables us to plausibly identify the effects of access to secondary education, information about deputy responsibilities, incumbent and benchmarked performance information, and their interactions on political engagement and electoral accountability. The surveys also explore the mechanisms underpinning these effects, helping us to speak to the broader question of whether and how education complements or substitutes for information provision in supporting electoral accountability, and ultimately democratic representation.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Bhandari, Abhit, Horacio Larreguy and John Marshall. 2018. "Learning accountability: Can formal education help hold politicians to account?." AEA RCT Registry. March 26. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2324-3.0.
Former Citation
Bhandari, Abhit et al. 2018. "Learning accountability: Can formal education help hold politicians to account?." AEA RCT Registry. March 26. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2324/history/27262.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2017-07-04
Intervention End Date
2017-07-29
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Voter beliefs about incumbent and challenger performance in office, political knowledge, comprehension of politician performance information, vote choice, costly indications of candidate support.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We will examine changes in the main outcomes (both post-treatment and post-election) relative to baselines, and examine individual indicators and indexes for groups of similar outcomes.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
To identify the interaction between education and information provision we combine natural variation with a randomized controlled trial. First, we leverage variation in school construction to identify the effects of access to education using a difference-in-differences (and instrumental variables) design that compares cohorts just too old to be affected by the reforms to cohorts affected by the reforms in villages that were and were not close to locations where new secondary schools were constructed. Second, we randomize the provision of incumbent performance information to individuals in those cohorts and villages. In addition, we compare the effects of just informing voters about their current incumbent with also providing a temporal benchmark---the performance of a previous incumbent. To further probe the conditions required to process and incorporate such information in voting decisions, we further vary whether voters are informed of the duties of their deputies. We conduct a panel survey to measure the pre-treatment effects of education, the effects of different types of information provision, and interaction between education and information provision on electoral accountability and several costly behavioral outcomes. A variety of treatment variants and survey questions help us to separate between the mechanisms potentially driving our main hypotheses relating to the effects of education, information provision, and their potential complementarity or substitutability on electoral accountability.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
By computer in private.
Randomization Unit
Information treatments (randomized): village.

Education access (natural variation): village-cohort.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
450 villages.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Around 4050 respondents (seek 9 per village).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Information treatments (randomized): 75 control villages; 75 deputy duties information villages; 75 incumbent performance villages; 75 incumbent performance + deputy duties information villages; 75 benchmarked incumbent performance villages; 75 benchmarked incumbent performance + deputy duties information villages.

Education treatment (natural variation): 225 low education reform intensity villages; 225 high education reform intensity villages. Within these villages, 1/3 of respondents will be fully affected by the reform, 1/3 partially affected by the reform; and 1/3 unaffected by the reform.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Harvard Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
2017-06-05
IRB Approval Number
IRB17-0880
IRB Name
Columbia Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2017-04-27
IRB Approval Number
IRB-AAAR3724
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
Pre-analysis Plan

MD5: 6c068257d0462f4e1440a744fce33d13

SHA1: fd21338ffb36e28b983094523f101ea7cf2d55a0

Uploaded At: July 13, 2017

Pre-analysis Plan (updated to include endline survey)

MD5: 5f8f4644cd98c226d17b78e40ceb397d

SHA1: 5c2fb15b020fa4f3ec4f6adff215dbc79bf05162

Uploaded At: August 04, 2017

Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
July 28, 2017, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
December 17, 2017, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
443 villages
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
3,999 voters
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
72 control, 75 duties information, 75 incumbent information, 75 incumbent and duties information, 72 benchmark information, 74 benchmark and duties information
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers