Co-ethnicity and contribution: The effect of identity on willingness to contribute to a public good
Last registered on April 06, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Co-ethnicity and contribution: The effect of identity on willingness to contribute to a public good
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004025
Initial registration date
April 02, 2019
Last updated
April 06, 2019 3:15 PM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
International Food Policy Research Institute
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
International Food Policy Research Institute
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2019-04-08
End date
2019-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Globally, women’s groups have emerged as an important platform for improving the economic, political and social empowerment of poor women. In India too, women’s groups have become a central component of many rural development interventions. At present, self-help groups (SHGs) are the most common variant of these women’s groups in India. A typical SHG is essentially a savings and credit group, consisting of 10-12 women who live in close proximity and meet regularly to deposit money into a collective account from which individual loans are provided to those in need (Nair 2005). These groups are widespread: the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) covers over 5 million households, and the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Support Program (BRLPS) reaches another 9 million under the JEEViKA program.

In recent years, multiple thematic interventions - on agriculture and livelihoods, WASH, health and nutrition and political action - have been layered onto these community platforms. These community-based interventions are largely delivered by agents selected from within the communities they serve. An example of this would be the JEEViKA Technical Support Program, a partnership between the BRLPS and Project Concern International, currently implemented in over a hundred blocks of Bihar. Even without the thematic additions, it has been shown that SHGs have the potential to empower women socially, politically and financially; this, combined with their reach and penetration, makes them a powerful development platform.

In India, evidence suggests that SHGs are generally ethnically and economically homogenous - partly due to self-selection into groups, partly deliberately, because it is believed that homogeneity improves cohesion, and partly because villages tend to be divided into ethnically homogeneous hamlets, so women living close to one another are typically of the same ethnicity. This implies that development programs that use SHGs as a vehicle for advancing interventions in agriculture, health, nutrition, or other areas may be susceptible to limitations imposed by society’s ethnic conventions, such as the exclusion of “lower” castes from certain occupations, public spaces or public goods. This is particularly salient in a state like Bihar, where caste divisions are stark.

We propose a field experiment to examine how the relationship between the ethnic identity of the development agent and that of SHG members affects the delivery and acceptability of development interventions. We test this using the provision of information on the need to invest in nutrition-related public goods. Specifically, we design a model of a group-based community nursery and kitchen garden that requires the investment of labour hours by members of the SHG. We then test the impact of (1) information around the importance of dietary diversity in improving maternal and child nutrition, and (2) the ethnic identity of the agent providing that information relative to the group, on the willingness of group members to contribute labour hours towards the construction of the group-specific public good. We will conduct the study in close collaboration with PRADAN, an Indian NGO with many years of experience in this sector.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Alvi, Muzna and Kalyani Raghunathan. 2019. "Co-ethnicity and contribution: The effect of identity on willingness to contribute to a public good." AEA RCT Registry. April 06. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4025/history/44736
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The intervention is in form of social and behavior change communication (SBCC) regarding health and nutrition.

It consists of six intervention arms including controls:
1) SHGs consisting of only female OBC members are asked about their willingness to contribute towards a public good by an OBC agent while no health and nutrition information is provided to them -CONTROL
2) SHGs consisting of only female OBC members are asked about their willingness to contribute towards a public good by an OBC agent after health and nutrition information is provided to them
3) SHGs consisting of only female OBC members are asked about their willingness to contribute towards a public good by a ST agent after health and nutrition information is provided to them

4) SHGs consisting of only female ST members are asked about their willingness to contribute towards a public good by a ST agent while no health and nutrition information is provided to them -CONTROL
5) SHGs consisting of only female ST members are asked about their willingness to contribute towards a public good by a ST agent after health and nutrition information is provided to them
6) SHGs consisting of only female ST members are asked about their willingness to contribute towards a public good by an OBC agent after health and nutrition information is provided to them
Intervention Start Date
2019-04-08
Intervention End Date
2019-05-12
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our outcome of interest is the individual member’s willingness to contribute labour hours in a week towards the creation and maintenance of a community nursery and kitchen garden. We are also interested in studying knowledge and retention about nutrition and health. In both cases we consider the outcomes keeping in mind whether the respondent:
a. Received BCC or did not receive BCC
b. Caste of the agent delivering the BCC with respect to the respondent's own caste
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We will construct a nutrition knowledge score which will be based on answers to ten questions on health and nutrition. These questions, in turn, will be based on the BCC material disseminated to the self help group.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We have two main research questions: the first tests the role of information in eliciting contributions of labour towards a group public good, the second tests the additional impact of the identity of the messenger. To identify these effects, we will vary the assignment of SHGs along two dimensions. First, we will randomize whether the group receives SBCC on the importance of the public good. Second, among the groups that receive information, we will randomize the ethnicity of the messenger vis-à-vis the ethnicity of the SHG.

Our outcome of interest is the individual member’s willingness to contribute labour hours towards the creation and maintenance of a community nursery and kitchen garden- a public good. In our model the community nursery will be used to raise plants which can be taken home by the SHG women to be planted on their homestead. An attached community kitchen garden will be used to raise other vegetables to maturity, with the resultant produce shared among all SHG women. Both the garden and the nursery are models that PRADAN (the NGO we are partnering with) has developed for other interventions. Also, PRADAN, elicits voluntary contributions of labour hours for other projects, so women in these areas are familiar with these methods. Fruits and vegetables will be chosen keeping in mind local conditions, availability of food from other sources, nutrient values of foods, and local diets.

We want to exploit differences in caste groups between the messenger and the women in the SHG. In particular, we want to assess the impact of co-ethnicity in two separate scenarios - (1) if the group is “high” caste and the messenger is “low” caste, and (2) if the group is “low” caste and the messenger is “high” caste. We believe these two scenarios are likely to generate different behaviors on the part of the group. Table 1 (in Annex, attached in Docs & Materials) summarizes some of our hypotheses on the direction of the effects. Here a “high” SHG or agent means a group or agent who is of a higher caste (analogously for the term “low”).

From a preliminary scoping exercise in Baghmundi block of Puruliya district, we ascertained that the distinction between the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the Scheduled Castes (SCs) is stark, and the hierarchy is well recognized and agreed upon by community members. We have used these two groups as the high and low group in West Bengal.

Treatment groups: In order to identify the two types of variation, our research design has six distinct treatment categories. There are two sets of “pure control” groups that do not receive the SBCC treatment – “high” (“low”) groups that are then matched to a “high” (“low”) agent who simply describes the public good and conducts the WTC experiment, but does not provide any SBCC.

There are then four additional groups that receive the “information treatment”. Two of these groups will receive information from an agent who is of the same ethnic group as the group members – “high” (“low”) group matched to a “high” (“low”) agent. Two additional groups will receive information from an agent who belongs to a different ethnic group. Since both groups receive the same information, this will minimize concerns that the public good we have chosen is inherently more valuable to one group rather than another. All six groups are depicted in Table 2 (in Annex, attached in Docs & Materials).

This experimental design will allow us to isolate the impact of information on group members’ willingness to contribute labour hours, as well as the added effect of ethnic affiliations between the group members and the community agent. To illustrate, the difference in WTC between (H, H, info) and (H, H, noinfo) tells us the added effect of information, while the difference between (H, H, info) and (H, L, info) tells us the impact of the messenger being from a lower caste than the caste of the group. In addition, the difference between (H, H, info) and (L, L, info) tells us whether the good is valued differently by each of the two types of SHGs.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Done by computer using STATA.
Randomization Unit
Self help group level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
The unit of randomization is self-help groups, but the outcome of interest is measured at the individual (self-help group member) level.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Assuming 10 members on average per self-help group, we will cover an estimated 2400 individual members.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
40 OBC groups, matched with OBC agent (No information)-CONTROL
40 OBC groups, matched with OBC agent (BCC)
40 OBC groups, matched with ST agent (BCC)

40 ST groups, matched with ST agent (No information)- CONTROL
40 ST groups, matched with ST agent (BCC)
40 ST groups, matched with OBC agent (BCC)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
International Food Policy Research Institute IRB
IRB Approval Date
2019-02-19
IRB Approval Number
PHND-19-0206/EPT-19-0206