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Exploring the continuum between public and private goods: Bidding for soil fertility information in Malawi
Last registered on September 17, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Exploring the continuum between public and private goods: Bidding for soil fertility information in Malawi
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004717
Initial registration date
September 17, 2019
Last updated
September 17, 2019 10:20 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Middlebury College
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Sussex
PI Affiliation
LUANAR: Lilongwe University of Agriculture & Natural Resources
PI Affiliation
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2019-05-08
End date
2019-08-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We describe the design and analysis plan for a field experiment conducted in the summer of 2019 in Central Malawi. In this lab-in-the-field experiment, we study the willingness to pay (WTP) for information about soil fertility and the accompanying management recommendations. The randomization is set up to explore the degree to which individual contributions towards purchasing soil tests differ depending on the actual and perceived heterogeneity in soils in the village. This pre-analysis plan is being submitted after data collection but before any analysis took place.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Berazneva, Julia et al. 2019. "Exploring the continuum between public and private goods: Bidding for soil fertility information in Malawi ." AEA RCT Registry. September 17. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4717-1.0.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Agricultural information has a public goods nature (it is non-rival and non-excludable) and is often underprovided. How to (cost-)effectively provide such information – whether weather forecasts or management recommendations – is, therefore, an important question for governments. In this research project, we study to what extent information about soil fertility and the accompanying management recommendations can be funded through collective contributions, and the degree to which individual contributions towards purchasing agricultural information will differ depending on the actual and perceived heterogeneity in village soils and on within-village social relationships. To study these questions, we conduct a modified public goods experiment in the Dowa and Kasungu districts of Central Malawi and collect associated survey data and soil samples.
Intervention Start Date
2019-06-18
Intervention End Date
2019-08-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Individual and collective contributions (in Malawian Kwacha) towards purchase of a soil fertility test from a maize plot and accompanying management recommendations
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The fieldwork is designed to study the degree to which individual contributions towards purchasing soil fertility tests and accompanying management recommendations will differ depending on the actual and perceived heterogeneity across sampled plots – both in terms of geography and social networks. Specifically, we conduct a controlled field experiment based on the standard public goods game. We modify the game slightly: farmers decide how much to contribute towards the purchase of a soil fertility test and associated site-specific management recommendations. Farmers play several rounds of the game; in each round they bid on a soil fertility test from a different plot with each plot varying both in terms of geographic distance from the plot of the bidding farmer (geographic heterogeneity) and in terms of farmers’ knowledge of the plot and relationship with the plot’s owner (social networks heterogeneity).

Our study builds on a 2014-2019 research project “Integrated Soil Fertility Management in Malawi” – an impact evaluation of an agricultural extension service in Central Malawi (Maertens, Michelson, and Nourani 2019). The 2014-2019 extension project was carried out in 250 randomly selected villages in two Extension Planning Areas (EPAs) where the implementer had not worked previous to 2014: Mthumtama in Kasungu district and Chibvala in Dowa district. Our project randomly selected 30 of the control villages from the 2014-2019 project villages: 15 in Kasungu district and 15 in Dowa district. In each village, based on the agricultural census obtained from the extension officers, we invited 20 farmers to take part in a public goods game. Only one farmer per household was allowed to participate.

In addition to the public goods game, in order to benchmark our total contributions towards a soil fertility test, we elicited individual willingness to pay (WTP) for soil fertility information following the Random Lottery Incentive System (RLIS) method in four additional villages (two in Kasungu and two in Dowa), interviewing six individuals in each of the villages in their homes.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Village
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
30 villages in the public goods game
Sample size: planned number of observations
600 individuals (20 per village)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
600 individuals or 30 villages
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
Middlebury Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2019-04-17
IRB Approval Number
19037
Analysis Plan

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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