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Does Policy Committee Diversity Affect Public Trust and Expectations?
Last registered on August 10, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Does Policy Committee Diversity Affect Public Trust and Expectations?
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006274
Initial registration date
August 07, 2020
Last updated
August 10, 2020 10:47 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Boston College
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago
PI Affiliation
Swiss National Bank
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2020-08-10
End date
2021-01-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We use a randomized control trial within an online survey to test causally for a set of non-mutually-exclusive channels through which diversity in policy committees might affect economic outcomes through consumers’ beliefs and choices. Specifically, we study how the salience of the presence of underrepresented demographic groups on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) affects the expectations, beliefs, and choices of different demographics of the US population. We use a set of information treatments regarding recent forecasts of macroeconomic variables by the FOMC, in which we vary the information regarding the identity of FOMC members, by making more or less salient the presence of underrepresented demographic groups in the FOMC. As this salience varies, we test how different demographic groups process the same information about the FOMC’s forecasts, the effects of this information on economic expectations, and the extent to which respondents trust the forecasts and policies the FOMC proposes. We also test whether the salience of demographic representation influences respondents’ choice of reading news about the FOMC versus another policy institution.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
D'Acunto, Francesco, Andreas Fuster and Michael Weber. 2020. "Does Policy Committee Diversity Affect Public Trust and Expectations?." AEA RCT Registry. August 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6274-1.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)

Intervention Start Date
2020-08-10
Intervention End Date
2020-11-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Main survey: expectations of future inflation and unemployment; trust in the Fed (to adequately manage inflation/unemployment; and to ensure the economic well-being of all Americans); plans for personal spending and labor market behavior.
Follow-up survey: expectations of future inflation and unemployment; trust in the Fed (to adequately manage inflation/unemployment; and to ensure the economic well-being of all Americans);; whether read any newspaper articles about Fed over previous month; whether (within survey) choose to read article featuring Fed policy maker (randomized to be either male or female) vs. policy maker from a different organization; how they evaluate article and featured policy maker.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The main survey begins by eliciting respondents’ knowledge and beliefs about the economy. Then, each respondent is randomly allocated to one of 7 groups (with equal probability). The first group is a control group that is not shown any information about Fed forecasts (just some generic Fed-related information). The remaining groups are shown forecasts about either inflation (groups 2-4) or unemployment (groups 5-7) based on official FOMC releases, along with interventions that make more or less salient the extent of minority representation in the FOMC. All respondents are then asked about their trust in the Fed and their economic expectations are elicited again. We also elicit various demographic characteristics.
The main hypotheses we’ll test is whether the same forecast information has differential effects on respondents’ beliefs and trust in the Fed depending on whether minority representation on the FOMC is salient, and in particular whether these effects differ depending on respondents’ own demographic characteristics.
In the follow-up survey, we again elicit respondents’ economic expectations as well as trust in the Fed, to test whether any potential effects found in the main survey persist over time. We will further examine whether the treatment in the main survey affected whether respondents followed Fed news over the intervening month, and whether they appear more informed about the Fed. Finally, we randomize respondents into three groups (orthogonal to treatment groups from the main survey). In group 1, respondents choose whether they want to read a short article based on statements by officials of the Congressional Budget Office or the Federal Reserve. In group 2 and 3, we add the names and titles of the policy makers based on whose statements the news articles are written, only one of which belongs to an underrepresented demographic group. The choices in the three groups allow us to test the extent to which the treatment in the main survey relates to subjects’ willingness to learn about the Fed’s statement relative to other institutions, and the extent to which this choice is mediated by the salience of minority representation in the policy committee.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is performed by a computer that assigns incoming subjects to different experimental arms
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
NA
Sample size: planned number of observations
8750 in the main survey, of which 3,500 will be contacted for the follow-up survey one month later.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
In the main survey, respondents will be randomly exposed to 1 of 7 treatment arms, i.e. the sample size is (approximately) 1,250 per treatment.
In the follow-up survey, respondents will be randomly exposed to 1 of 4 treatment arms, i.e. sample size (approximately) 875 per treatment
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Boston College IRB
IRB Approval Date
2020-03-25
IRB Approval Number
20.218.01e