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Asymmetry in Civic Information: An Experiment on Tax Incidence among SMEs in Togo
Last registered on July 10, 2019


Trial Information
General Information
Asymmetry in Civic Information: An Experiment on Tax Incidence among SMEs in Togo
Initial registration date
June 28, 2019
Last updated
July 10, 2019 2:18 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
World Bank
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
In many low-income countries, there is a wedge between the statutory policies on tax compliance and the practice on the ground, especially for the taxation of informal firms. Asymmetric information about the nature of these firms' civic responsibility to pay taxes leaves much discretion to tax collectors and leads to variation in practices and further distrust and confusion among taxpayers and the tax authority. We ran a randomized controlled trial with 424 firms in Lome, Togo, to investigate whether alleviating this informational asymmetry improves tax incidence. We randomly assigned half of the sample to an informational and training treatment about tax procedures and obligations as well as the use of tax revenues to provide public services. Treated firms, who we show are now better informed, participate less in the tax system on the extensive margin with a change in the composition of firms who participated. Fewer low revenue firms paid taxes as would be expected in accordance with the regulations. This positive sorting by firm revenue, not only is welfare enhancing but may, on the net, increase total tax revenues.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Blimpo, Moussa and Paul Castaneda Dower. 2019. "Asymmetry in Civic Information: An Experiment on Tax Incidence among SMEs in Togo." AEA RCT Registry. July 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4394-1.0.
Former Citation
Blimpo, Moussa, Moussa Blimpo and Paul Castaneda Dower. 2019. "Asymmetry in Civic Information: An Experiment on Tax Incidence among SMEs in Togo." AEA RCT Registry. July 10. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4394/history/49744.
Experimental Details
The intervention consisted of the provision of information and training about
tax obligations and benefits of taxation to firm owners and society at large. The information included was based on the tax code as well as our interviews with senior tax officials concerning information that they would like these firms to know. Along with information about their tax obligations, the treatment also consisted of what taxes pay for and the cost of these services.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Tax compliance
2. Attitudes toward taxation
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Many of the firms in the informal sector do not have physical addresses. Additionally, Togo does not have a recent firm census that could serve as a sampling frame. We resorted to a sampling method used by the Afrobarometer surveys, which uses a well-designed shoe leather and sampling on the ground. We used the census tracts as enumeration areas. For each enumeration areas, we randomly select a starting point on the map. Four enumerators then go to the nearest junction to the starting point
and choose five businesses in each of the four directions by counting businesses that they encounter on both sides of the streets and selecting every fifth. This first database is then used for the random assignment to the treatment or the control group.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The randomization was in office by computer following the baseline data collection.
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization is the firm
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
424 firms
Sample size: planned number of observations
424 firm owners
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
212 firms owners in the treatment group and 212 firm owners in the control group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)