Safe Cities: Building Trust in State Authority

Last registered on August 19, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Safe Cities: Building Trust in State Authority
Initial registration date
September 02, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
September 02, 2020, 10:39 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
August 19, 2021, 1:39 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

Harvard Kennedy School

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago
PI Affiliation
Lahore University of Management Sciences

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Access to justice and criminal dispute resolution is a first-order issue in many emerging economies. In Pakistan, citizens dissatisfied with the state tend to shift towards a variety of non-state actors, weakening the efficacy of state institutions to resolve crimes and improve public safety. This study builds upon previous research which found that citizens increase their desired usage of and giving to the state when provided information about judicial improvements (Acemoglu et al. 2018). In a unique collaboration with the Punjab Safe Cities Authority, this study focuses on enhancing citizen engagement with state policing and judicial services. Identifying a population that is currently experiencing a dispute, we experimentally introduce interventions that provide information on and/or direct exposure to enhanced services for citizens (an additional police complaint hotline and legal advisory services) and measure these interventions’ impact on dispute resolution, citizen satisfaction, and engagement with and perceptions of the police and state actors.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Acemoglu, Daron et al. 2021. "Safe Cities: Building Trust in State Authority." AEA RCT Registry. August 19.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
There are two main categories of outcomes we are looking to impact: 1) dispute redressal and citizen satisfaction with their case, and 2) continued engagement with and broader attitudes towards the relevant state actors (police and others). The first category of outcomes deals with whether or not the respondent's issue was actually resolved and their general satisfaction with the process. While we will directly ask if the respondent felt that their case was resolved, we will also measure how far the case progressed through the legal system by tracking if an FIR was registered or a Challan – a form of official documentation or citation – issued. We will also have a sequence of survey questions dealing with the extent to which the respondent attempted to resolve their issue with the state, how satisfied they were with the outcome, and if they would be willing to use the state again should they experience another conflict. We will also elicit their general attitudes towards and beliefs regarding state and non-state actors through both self-reported measures and where feasible, experimental game play. We will also measure the extent to which the respondent engaged with the state through their application registration rates.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The study will be implemented as a cross-randomized control trial. Individuals will be randomized into either a control group or a combination of the treatments. For each service, we will have two intensities of treatments: an information variant and an experience variant. The information treatment will simply inform the respondent about the service and giving them contact information should they chose to use it. The experience treatment, on the other hand, will give respondents the opportunity to directly connect with the service. For both services, we will directly connect respondents to the appropriate service (police complaint hotline and/or legal advisory) by patching them through after the survey. We will also cross-randomize the two service treatment arms.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done by a computer
Randomization Unit
We randomize treatment at the individual level
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
20,000 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
20,000 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
8000 control; 1500 information on police complaint hotline; 1500 information on legal advisory service; 1500 information on both hotline and advisory service; 1500 experience hotline; 1500 experience advisory service; 1500 experience both hotline and advisory service; 1500 experience hotline and information on advisory service; 1500 experience hotline and information on advisory service.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Massachusetts Institute of Technology COUHES
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials