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Representation through Information: Bringing Politician Actions Closer to Citizen Preferences
Last registered on August 02, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Representation through Information: Bringing Politician Actions Closer to Citizen Preferences
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003194
Initial registration date
July 31, 2018
Last updated
August 02, 2018 1:51 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Harvard University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2018-07-10
End date
2019-12-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Do politicians possess accurate information about citizen preferences and can better information bring politicians' actions closer to citizen preferences? In collaboration with the two largest political parties in Pakistan, I test how accurate local politicians' beliefs are about citizen preferences and conduct interventions aimed at reducing the distance between politician actions and citizen preferences.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Liaqat, Asad. 2018. "Representation through Information: Bringing Politician Actions Closer to Citizen Preferences ." AEA RCT Registry. August 02. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3194-1.0.
Former Citation
Liaqat, Asad. 2018. "Representation through Information: Bringing Politician Actions Closer to Citizen Preferences ." AEA RCT Registry. August 02. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3194/history/32510.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The interventions involve (a) providing local politicians with accurate information on citizen preferences and (b) giving them information about how accurate their existing beliefs about citizen preferences are.
Intervention Start Date
2018-07-10
Intervention End Date
2018-10-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Policy recommendations to political party
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Demand for information, justifications for policy recommendations, willingness to take up a government scheme, proxy for honesty, perception of representatives
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Individual local elected representatives are cross-randomized into the following treatment arms:

(1) Receiving information about the preferences of (one of six possible subsets of) citizens from within their National Assembly constituency.

(2) Receiving information on how accurate their prior beliefs about citizen preferences are.

The design includes two further cross-randomizations at the politician level, aimed at testing the sensitivity of treatment effects to potential design effects.
Experimental Design Details
Individual local elected representatives are cross-randomized into the following treatment arms: (1) Citizen Preferences Information Treatment: The politicians randomized into this treatment group will be provided with accurate information about citizen preferences on a set of nine salient policy issues. Data on preferences has been gathered through a random survey of voters in the same National Assembly constituency as the local politician, which includes the local politician's jurisdiction. The purpose of this treatment is to mimic a `preference gathering' exercise by the politician. They will be further randomized into one of six treatment groups, with each group receiving the preferences of a different subgroup of the sample. - Full sample, including both male and female adult citizens of all political affiliations - Adult male citizens of all political affiliations - Adult female citizens of all political affiliations - Both male and female adult citizens who support the local politician's party - Male citizens who support the local politician's party - Female citizens who support the local politician's party Within each politician, 6 of the 9 policy issues will be assigned to treatment and the remaining three will serve as within-politician controls. On each of the six treatment issues, they will receive information on citizen preferences from the same subset of the population they have been assigned to. The nine policy issues are: A1: Allocation of additional local funds across waste or sanitation A2: Allocation of additional local funds across filter plants or street lights A3: Allocation of additional local funds across local streets or water supply B1: Focus of provincial health department across smaller general health centers or specialized healthcare centers B2: Focus of national government on eradicating corruption or addressing unemployment B3: Allocation of federal government resources towards fixing electricity issues or water issues C1: Initiating development projects in the presence of environmental costs C2: Support for Women on Wheels scheme C3: Level of taxes and services in general in the economy (2) Accuracy Treatment: In this treatment, local representatives will be told how accurate their prior beliefs about citizen preferences are. Once their priors about citizen preferences have been elicited, the survey software will automatically calculate an `accuracy score' based on the politician's responses and the preferences expressed by voters. This score will range from 0 (equal to a random guess) to 100 (entirely accurate). In pilot data, the mean accuracy score was 34 with a standard deviation of 22. The purpose of this treatment is to demonstrate that the existing information that politicians have about citizen preferences is not as accurate as they tend to believe. The design includes two further cross-randomizations at the politician level, aimed at testing the sensitivity of treatment effects to potential design effects. These are: (1) Whose Preferences are Important? There is a potential concern that in addition to providing information on citizen preferences, the treatment may also prime the importance of these preferences and de-emphasize the importance of politicians' own views. To test whether this is the case, politicians in each of the experimental groups described above will be cross-randomized into one of three groups. In each group, politicians will be read a different script before these policy recommendations are elicited: - Script emphasizing the importance of citizens' preferences: It is important for elected representatives such as yourselves to take the preferences of citizens into account when making decisions. Please keep this in mind when making your recommendations. - Script emphasizing the importance of politicians' own views regarding good policies: You have been elected by the people and your views are important. Please keep this in mind when making your recommendation. - Script emphasizing the need to balance citizen preferences with politicians' own views regarding good policies: Citizens' preferences are important but so are your own views. Please consider both of these when making your recommendations (2) Who is Requesting Recommendations? Another potential concern is that whether preferences are being requested by the party's senior leadership or not may be consequential for whether local politicians respond to citizen preferences. To test whether this is the case, the party will issue local politicians one of the following two variations of the letter at random:  - Letter stating the party is requesting their preferences and will incorporate these in the policy making process  - Letter stating the party president is requesting their preferences and will incorporate these in the policy making process
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office on a computer
Randomization Unit
Individual local representatives randomized into experimental groups as described in the experimental design section.
Policy issues within each treatment local representative randomized into treatment or within-treatment-cluster controls.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
720 local representatives
Sample size: planned number of observations
6480 policy recommendations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Preferences information treatment:
2/3 local representatives to receive preferences information. Within this group, 1/6 each to receive preferences of a different subset.

Accuracy treatment:
1/2 local representatives to receive accuracy information.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Committee on the Use of Human Subjects, Harvard University
IRB Approval Date
2018-06-19
IRB Approval Number
IRB 18-0784
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, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS