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Misconceptions about regional inequality and preferences for targeted spending
Last registered on June 03, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Misconceptions about regional inequality and preferences for targeted spending
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005964
Initial registration date
Not yet registered
Last updated
June 03, 2020 6:08 PM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
ifo Institut, Munich
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute, Munich
PI Affiliation
ifo Institut, Munich
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2020-06-03
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In this project, we investigate whether support for targeted transfers depends on people’s perception of regional circumstances. In particular, we study whether information on the rank of respondents’ county of residence in terms of educational outcomes (the share school-leavers without a degree) and economic outcomes (unemployment rate) changes their support for regionally targeted and non-targeted policies. We implement an online-survey experiment among a representative sample of adults aged 18 to 69 years in Germany. Respondents either complete the questions related to school-leavers without a degree or to unemployment. Within each group a randomly selected subgroup of respondents receives information on the current share of the respective measure in their county, as well as information on the number of counties in Germany with a higher share and information on the inequality in shares across Germany, visualized by a map of the country. Subsequently, we elicit respondents’ support for targeted and non-targeted public spending and their perception on the efficacy of such spending to examine how they vary with information on inequality between regions.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Grewenig, Elisabeth , Philipp Lergetporer and Katharina Werner. 2020. "Misconceptions about regional inequality and preferences for targeted spending." AEA RCT Registry. June 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5964-1.0.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Respondents complete a questionnaire on support for targeted and non-targeted policy. Each subject is randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups, and completes five consecutive stages. In stage 1, a random group of respondents is asked to estimate how many students in their county leave school without a degree. Another group of respondents is asked to estimate the unemployment rate in their county. Respondents are matched to their county of residence via their postcode, which is elicited earlier in the survey. In stage 2, respondents are asked to guess how many of the other 400 counties in Germany have higher shares of the respective measure than their county. In stage 3, a randomly selected group receives information on the shares in their county and across Germany and then state whether they perceive regional inequality as a problem while another group answers the same question without additional information. In stage 4, respondents record their preferences for whether targeted and non-targeted spending should be increased. In stage 5, respondents rate the effectiveness of targeted and non-targeted spending to reduce the share of school-leavers without a degree and the unemployment rate, respectively. The treatment variation allows us to study to what extent preferences for targeted policy depend on accurate information on regional inequality.
Intervention Start Date
2020-06-03
Intervention End Date
2020-06-17
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcomes of interest are respondents’ perception of regional inequality as a problem (elicited in stage 3) and preferences for increased spending (elicited in stage 4).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The experimental design will allow us to test whether information on regional inequality across counties in Germany changes respondents’ perception of regional inequality as a problem and preferences for targeted and non-targeted spending to benefit school-leavers without a degree and the unemployed.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Misconceptions of respondents related to the share of school-leavers without a degree/unemployment rates in their county (elicited in stage 1) as well as their counties rank across counties in Germany (elicited in stage 2). Also, the perceived effectiveness of increased spending to reduce the share of school-leavers without a degree/unemployed (elicited in stage 5). In addition, heterogeneities by prior beliefs elicited in stage 1 and stage 2.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
The effects on perceptions of regional inequality as a problem and preferences for increased spending (see Primary Outcomes) might be mediated through respondents’ prior beliefs on regional inequality in Germany and their perception of the effectiveness of higher spending.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We conduct the experiment in a sample of 10,000 adults aged between 18 and 69 years. The survey is conducted in cooperation with respondi. The recruitment and polling is managed by respondi, who collect the data via an online platform. That is, our participants answer the survey questions autonomously on their own digital devices. Randomization is carried out by respondi at the individual level, using a computer.

Our experiment is structured as follows:
Treatment 1:
Stage 1: prior beliefs on share of school-leavers without a degree in county
Stage 2: prior beliefs on the number of counties in Germany with a higher share of school-leavers without a degree
Stage 3: perception of regional inequality with respect to school-leavers without a degree
Stage 4: preferences for increased spending for all schools/schools in counties with high shares of school-leavers without a degree
Stage 5: perceived effectiveness of spending for all schools/schools in counties with high shares of school-leavers without a degree

Treatment 2:
Stage 1: prior beliefs on share of school-leavers without a degree in county
Stage 2: prior beliefs on the number of counties in Germany with a higher share of school-leavers without a degree
Stage 3: information on share of school-leavers without a degree + perception of regional inequality with respect to school-leavers without a degree
Stage 4: information on share of school-leavers without a degree + preferences for increased spending for all schools/schools in counties with high shares of school-leavers without a degree
Stage 5: information on share of school-leavers without a degree + perceived effectiveness of spending for all schools/schools in counties with high shares of school-leavers without a degree

Treatment 3:
Stage 1: prior beliefs on unemployment rate in county
Stage 2: prior beliefs on the number of counties in Germany with a higher unemployment rate
Stage 3: perception of regional inequality with respect to unemployment rates
Stage 4: preferences for increased spending for all counties/counties with high unemployment rates
Stage 5: perceived effectiveness of spending for all counties/counties with high unemployment rates

Treatment 4:
Stage 1: prior beliefs on unemployment rate in county
Stage 2: prior beliefs on the number of counties in Germany with a higher unemployment rate
Stage 3: information on unemployment rates + perception of regional inequality with respect to unemployment rates
Stage 4: information on unemployment rates + preferences for increased spending for all counties/counties with high unemployment rates
Stage 5: information on unemployment rates + perceived effectiveness of spending for all counties/counties with high unemployment rates
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is carried out by the survey company respondi, using a computer.
Randomization Unit
at the individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
10,000
Sample size: planned number of observations
10,000 adults aged 18-69 years
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
approx. 2,500 will be assigned to each of the Treatment groups
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number