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Trust in State Authority and Non-State Actors
Last registered on February 02, 2015

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Trust in State Authority and Non-State Actors
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000602
Initial registration date
February 02, 2015
Last updated
February 02, 2015 4:54 AM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Harvard Kennedy School
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Harvard University
PI Affiliation
MIT
PI Affiliation
CERP
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2014-07-01
End date
2017-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The ability of the state to maintain trust with its citizens is a challenge in emerging economies. The proposed study examines how perceptions of relative state effectiveness determine a citizen's engagement with state and non-state actors. The first component of the study introduces a range of "exposure treatments" to individuals in Pakistan, a country that offers an excellent study context. The treatments vary from information provision about state and non-state initiatives versus a placebo information treatment. The study tests whether these interventions change a citizens' beliefs and attitudes towards state and non-state actors.

The second component of the study will offer several levels of intensity of treatment -- from pure information, to demonstration, to facilitating access to state services. We will then measure the change in citizens' beliefs and attitudes along with impacts on the citizens’ actual engagement with each actor. These ideas raise the possibility of a two-way feedback between the effectiveness of the state and citizens' attitudes towards it.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Acemoglu, Daron et al. 2015. "Trust in State Authority and Non-State Actors." AEA RCT Registry. February 02. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.602-2.0.
Former Citation
Acemoglu, Daron et al. 2015. "Trust in State Authority and Non-State Actors." AEA RCT Registry. February 02. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/602/history/3497.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The proposed research builds upon our pilot study (MIT Subaward Agreement No. 5710003). The two aims of the pilot were: (i) Developing effective information treatments; and (ii) Identifying feasible and appropriate services and target populations. We have now successfully developed and tested information treatments. Results from over 200 representative urban and rural respondents show that specific (accurate) positive informational primes on state actors do lead to positively (negatively) updating towards the state (non-state) actor. These results hold across subjective survey and experimental game outcomes. In addition, we have identified dispute resolution as a service where non-state actors are playing increasingly important roles and pose direct challenges to state authority. This has helped us develop specific "exposure treatments" pertinent to dispute resolution, establish partnerships with relevant players, and identify individuals at initial stages of a dispute, thus allowing us to measure the impact of the interventions on actual engagement in addition to survey and experimental outcomes.

Specifically, we propose to introduce three types of "exposure treatments" about dispute resolution services at the individual level. These treatments will vary in intensity from low to medium to high (from simple information provision about changes in effectiveness of the actor to real experiences with changed services). We examine how moving from low to high intensity treatments will impact beliefs about state (non-state) actors and movement away from non-state (state) options for dispute resolution. We will also study whether actual citizen engagement varies with the strength of exposure. Within each treatment type we also hope to introduce further variants that will shed light on when and why movements to state/non-state actors occur. We begin by discussing service and partner identification, move to sample identification, elaborate on the specific treatments in the study and then outline our data and methodology.
Intervention Start Date
2014-12-01
Intervention End Date
2016-09-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our set of interventions - moving from light to heavy treatments - will help map out the nature and extent to which differing degrees of (positive) exposure to state (and non-state) actors impacts state (non-state) trust and engagement. For each intervention evaluating the impact on both state and non-state actors will allow us to detect direct and spillover effects. In the light treatment, separately using positive state and non-state information, will allow us to examine whether the effects are symmetric or not. In the medium (and heavy) treatments, we will use the “state-heavy” and “state-light” variation to see the elasticity of trust in state and non-state actors with respect to varying levels of exposure of state activities. Moreover, since we will examine state-service specific perceptions and outcomes as well, we will be able to examine whether providing a positive exposure to one state service leads to a positive movement on the other service as well (a "service spillover" effect).

With states like Pakistan increasingly concerned about citizen disengagement, it is important to understand what factors promote trust in and re-engagement with the state. Whether positive policy innovations can help and if so, whether these need to be directly experienced by the citizen or the knowledge that the state is improving its effectiveness is sufficient. Since the trend away from state authority is not simply a Pakistan-specific phenomenon, the lessons from this study are likely to be of interest to a wide audience of policymakers and academics.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Respondents will participate in a field-based experiment to examine the effects of information treatments, which provide fact-based information on the behavior and ideology of state actors, on the level of trust and respect citizens hold for these state actors. The intent of the games is to identify the influences on citizens’ trust in state and non-state actors. They are being developed based on common behavioral trust games that ask respondents to make a monetary allocation with a given amount to various state and non-state actors. The experiment measures the change in their allocations given more positive or negative information relating to various the actors. Surveys will also be designed to gather more specifics in terms of the reasons for the allocation decisions of the players and also of perceptions of service provision by state and non-state actors. A double-blind design will ensure that allocation decisions cannot be traced back to each individual and that state and non-state counterparts will not have any knowledge of the identity of the respondents.

The study will recruit individuals through door-to-door household visits, use of land records system and lists of callers into the police helpline system as part of the study population to be given one of the three treatments or assigned to the control group. These systems are further explained below.

Along with the information treatment, two other treatments will be introduced to reduce barriers to accessing newly developed state services for respondents. These treatments are added to understand how additional exposure, not just information, to the state affects perceptions of state and non-state actors.

The second treatment will move beyond delivering simple information to making it more credible and persuasive by detailing new services—namely a computerized land record system and the police emergency helpline system—and educating respondents about accessing them. The computerized land registration management information system (LRMIS) in Punjab puts in place a reliable, efficient, and transparent system for maintaining land records. The system records all transactions and provides access to these records for the relevant population at designated service centers. The crime reporting helpline system by the police can be used during periods of emergency, threat or victimization. This system has been prevalent in Western countries for several decades (i.e. “911” service in the U.S. and Canada). The main component of this intervention, the helpline, will record all citizen complaints and direct designated police officers to respond to these complaints. In visits to respondents, we will explain step-by-step all processes associated with availing these services and how beneficial they have been to others. The first treatment consists of purely information about state or non-state actors (as was done in the first stage of the intervention). In contrast to the first treatment, this treatment seeks to engage the respondents via direct demonstration of new and positive services. In the case of land record system, we will demonstrate the system on a tablet but will recommend respondents visit service centers to further engage with the system.

The third treatment will directly reduce the transaction costs of engaging with state dispute resolution services. Specifically, we will offer "legal triage" to respondents. Initial evidence through the police helpline system shows calls with requests for legal advice. Our discussions with lawyers also suggest that such services would be of help and reduce the costs of accessing often burdensome state services. Trained professionals will develop a guidebook that will discuss resolution options for common types of cases and law students and/or paralegals will be trained and made available to assist respondents with their cases. While we haven't finalized the delivery logistics, options being considered include vouchers for consultation hours or a series of household visits by professionals. With respondents in all three treatments and a control group, we will collect data on perception of state and non-state actors, results of behavioral game play and use of state and non-state services. Additional surveys will be developed to be used at baseline and endline of these interventions. These documents will be added as an amendment when they are finished being prepared.

Details of Game Format
Two games that will be primarily used to test changes in perceptions of trustworthiness of state and non-state actors when given information treatments include the fund dictator game and the investment game.

Fund Dictator Game: Individuals are told that a given state or non-state actor has put an unknown portion of a given amount in a sealed envelope. The game allows participating individuals to make a choice between a fixed amount and this envelope given by the state or non-state actor.

Investment Game:
This allows participants to anonymously and confidentially invest some, or, or none of a specified amount representing their day’s income in a hypothetical scheme run by a type of state or non-state actors, knowing that their return is based on a measure of the actors’ effectiveness.
Experimental Design Details
We will be using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) design with each of the three proposed types of treatments offered to a randomly selected subset of individuals. We expect to estimate “intent-to-treat” effects for all of our treatments. Our general specification will be: Y_it= ∝ + β_1∙〖Treat〗_i+ β_2 ∙〖Post〗_t+ β_3 ∙〖〖Post〗_t×Treat〗_i+ ε_i Y_it is the outcome variable for individual i at time t ∈(0,1). 〖Treat〗_i is the treatment dummy, and 〖Post〗_t is the post-treatment period dummy. β_3 is our coefficient of interest giving us the average treatment effect of the intervention. CERP will manage all surveying activities. We will focus on a range of outcome variables using a combination of survey, experimental games and administrative data. We are interested in capturing subjective outcomes such as perceptions of state or non-state effectiveness or preference towards state or non-state actors as well as real outcomes such as take-up of state services, frequency of usage of state-services or dispute status. We will administer baseline surveys to all respondents and conduct follow-up surveys to track take up and usage of state initiatives as well as the status of disputes over a 1-2 year period. We will access administrative data to verify certain self-reported outcomes on state service usage. In addition to outcome measures, we will collect basic information on households (age, income, etc.) to serve as control variables if necessary (e.g. in cases of imbalance in key variables from randomization). In the pilot study, we observed effects of roughly 0.2 standard deviations (sd) for experimental game outcomes from a simple information provision treatment. To conduct power calculations for the full study, we take this effect size as the benchmark for the low-intensity treatment; as we increase the treatment intensity, we expect stronger effects (0.25 sd for the medium-intensity and 0.4 sd for high-intensity treatments). Based on these assumptions, power calculations reveal that we will require a total of 2,100 respondents, with 500 respondents for the low-intensity treatment, 450 for the medium-intensity treatment, and 500 for the high-intensity treatment (assuming 50 percent take up, though we expect it to be higher), and 650 respondents in the control group.
Randomization Method
We will identify neighborhoods with low to middle income households and visit individual households to gather a sample population to participate in the games. Respondents will also be recruited using the land registry and police helpline call registry.

Respondents will be informed of the nature of their involvement in the study at the time of recruitment. Subjects will be randomly assigned by computer into treatment and control groups after they give consent based on the ID number on their survey number that represents a randomly generated order of numbers pre-assigned to treatment and control. The rules of the games, their compensation, the double-blind design assuring anonymity, and their ability to leave at any time will be explained before they play. The game design will be piloted with the first group of individuals and any lessons learned will be used to modify future games.
Randomization Unit
Randomization is at the individual level
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
0 clusters planned
Sample size: planned number of observations
2,100
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
500 respondents for the low-intensity treatment, 450 for the medium-intensity treatment, and 500 for the high-intensity treatment (assuming 50 percent take up, though we expect it to be higher), and 650 respondents in the control group. Total 2,100.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
In the pilot study, we observed effects of roughly 0.2 standard deviations (sd) for experimental game outcomes from a simple information provision treatment. To conduct power calculations for the full study, we take this effect size as the benchmark for the low-intensity treatment; as we increase the treatment intensity, we expect stronger effects (0.25 sd for the medium-intensity and 0.4 sd for high-intensity treatments). Based on these assumptions, power calculations reveal that we will require a total of 2,100 respondents, with 500 respondents for the low-intensity treatment, 450 for the medium-intensity treatment, and 500 for the high-intensity treatment (assuming 50 percent take up, though we expect it to be higher), and 650 respondents in the control group.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
MIT Committee On the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects
IRB Approval Date
2014-10-17
IRB Approval Number
1407006522
IRB Name
Harvard University Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
2014-11-19
IRB Approval Number
IRB14-3923
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