Expectations and Choice: Evidence from a Home Upgrading Program
Last registered on March 25, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Expectations and Choice: Evidence from a Home Upgrading Program
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005580
Initial registration date
March 25, 2020
Last updated
March 25, 2020 12:20 PM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
World Bank
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Gabinete de Coordinación de Políticas Sociales, Vicepresidencia de la República Dominicana
PI Affiliation
Gabinete de Coordinación de Políticas Sociales, Vicepresidencia de la República Dominicana
PI Affiliation
World Bank
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-10-01
End date
2020-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Expectations about the benefits of a social program, and the degree of engagement in its implementation can drastically change the perceived gains from it. Higher than realized expectations can lead to disappointment and even refusal of the program, while the possibility of choosing aspects of its implementation can increase satisfaction. We use a 2x2 randomized design that explores the expansion of a home upgrading program in the Dominican Republic to study the degree to which unmet expectations and choice over the implementation affect satisfaction and well-being of beneficiaries.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Gine, Xavier et al. 2020. "Expectations and Choice: Evidence from a Home Upgrading Program." AEA RCT Registry. March 25. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5580-1.0.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
In this project we evaluate an existing national program that upgrades the homes of beneficiaries of Progresando con Solidaridad (ProSoli), the conditional cash transfer (CCT) program of the Dominican Republic government. The home improvements include upgrading dirt (and badly damaged cement) floors into new cement floors, as well as painting the exterior walls of the house. Beneficiary families of the program receive a letter that describes the home improvements in general terms. We combine 2 interventions, as follows:

Message specificity
When announcing the program to selected beneficiaries, we provide a detailed description of the home improvements to half of the household beneficiaries ('specific message'), while the remaining treated households are given the status-quo general letter ('general message').

Choice of color:
Half of the treated households in our study are allowed to choose the color that will be used to paint the exterior walls of their homes ('color choice'), while the remaining treated households are not given such choice ('no color choice').
Intervention Start Date
2019-10-01
Intervention End Date
2020-03-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Satisfaction and engagement with home improvement program and ProSoli. Satisfaction and perceived value of house. Additional home improvements. Health of the children.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Primary outcomes will be self-reported using household survey instruments. Satisfaction with the house and program will use a likert scale converted into a 0/1 variable. Participants will also report what they expected from the program when it was announced and whether such expectations were met. Engagement with the program while being implemented counts the number of activities the household engaged in with the crew responsible for the upgrades (e.g. moving furniture, painting the walls themselves, fixing the floor, offering beverages or snacks etc). Health of the children is measured by asking about health issues faced by the children of up to 6 years old that live in the household (e.g. diarrhea, worms, respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, skin issues, among others).
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Value of the house and investments in home improvements. Number of school days missed by children. Social economic perception and stress levels of caregivers of children up to 6 years old.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary outcomes are also measured using self-reports from household surveys. Survey participants will report on investments in additional home improvements after the upgrades. Perceived socioeconomic status is measured using a 1-10 ladder where respondents compare their socioeconomic status to that of other households in their region or country. Stress levels are measured using a scale similar to the Perceived Stress Scale developed in Cohen (1994) and will be administered to caregivers of children up to 6 years old.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The two interventions are combined in a 2x2 design, with four treatment and a control group. We group households in clusters, that is, small geographical areas each consisting of 3 to 4 households. Clusters are assigned to one of the four treatment or control group: 10% of the clusters are assigned to the 'control group', where all households in the cluster do not receive the program. The remaining 90% of clusters are divided evenly into the four treatment groups. To assess spillover effects, 20% of households in treated clusters will not be targeted and thus will not receive the program. By design they are located close to the "targeted" households that will receive the program. The experiment thus consists of the following groups of households: (i) control households, (ii) untargeted households, and households that receive (iii) general message and no color choice, (iv) general message and color choice, (v) specific message and no color choice, and (vi) specific message and color choice.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in the office by a computer using Stata.
Randomization Unit
Randomization has two stages. We first randomize clusters into treatment and control. All households in control clusters will not receive the program. Households of treatment clusters will be randomized into targeted households, that will receive the program and untargeted, that will not.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
400 polygons consisting of a small geographical area of 3 to 4 households on average.
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,300 HHs
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Following our experimental design, our sample will be divided into the 6 control and treatment arms as follows:
(i) control households -- 130 HHs
(ii) untargeted households -- 234 HHs
(iii) general message and no color choice -- 234 HHs
(iv) general message and color choice -- 234 HHs
(v) specific message and no color choice -- 234 HHs; and
(vi) specific message and color choice -- 234 HHs.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
With limited baseline data on two of the main outcomes of interest, we make educated guesses for the means and ICC and compute the MDEs given the sample we have. We focus on two outcomes: satisfaction with the program and the number of activities the household engaged in during the implementation of the program. With the sample size that we have, assuming a mean satisfaction with the program of 60% in the control group and an ICC of 0.05, we can detect an increase in satisfaction among treated households of 0.13. If we assume a more conservative ICC of 0.15, the MDE is 0.14. Assuming that households in the general message (or the no choice) engage in 2 activities on average with a standard deviation of 3, we can detect an increase of 0.79 activities if the ICC is 0.2.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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