Experimental evaluation of an online counseling program expanding neighborhood information among rental voucher recipients in Chile

Last registered on May 03, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Experimental evaluation of an online counseling program expanding neighborhood information among rental voucher recipients in Chile
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006559
Initial registration date
May 02, 2022

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
May 03, 2022, 9:51 AM EDT

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

Locations

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Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
PI Affiliation
Tulane University

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2020-11-19
End date
2024-03-09
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
The Chilean Ministry of Housing and Urbanism (MINVU) implemented the first rental voucher program in Latin America in 2014. It was the first time that rental housing was being subsidized in the country. Every year, six out of ten assigned vouchers are left unused and many families move with their vouchers to neighborhoods with poorer characteristics.

In this project we evaluate different strategies to reduce demand side barriers faced by rental voucher recipients. In particular, we analyze how a low-cost online counseling program that provides different pieces of online information to voucher holders affects their voucher utilization rate and residential mobility-related outcomes.

Vouchers recipients are randomly assigned to one of three treatment arms with the purpose of reducing different demand side barriers. The first group receives information to reduce information frictions about program’s rules. The second group is provided with information on neighborhood characteristics and the third group gets access to information about the benefits from living in better areas. Information is provided through an online platform, Aprendo y Arriendo (Learn and Rent).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Celhay, Pablo, Pablo Celhay and Javiera Selman. 2022. "Experimental evaluation of an online counseling program expanding neighborhood information among rental voucher recipients in Chile." AEA RCT Registry. May 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6559
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
We developed an online platform, Aprendo y Arriendo, to deliver customized information to voucher holders. The experiment’s goal is to provide different information treatments in order to identify which information has a higher effect in the lease up rate and in producing mobility to neighborhoods with better characteristics.

Voucher use information treatment (VUIT):
*Beneficiaries are contacted via email and encouraged to use the platform.
*After entering into the platform, they will be shown information about the voucher program, including an explanation of the program and frequently asked questions.
*Before leaving the platform, voucher holders get access to a blog where they can leave their questions. Also, they are provided with a whatsapp number and email where they reach out to ask directly.
*All beneficiaries receive weekly email reminders to use their vouchers and access the platform

Neighborhood effect information treatment (NEIT):
*neficiaries will have access to an animated video that explains the relevance of neighborhood characteristics in the development and well-being of her families. The video language is simple and approachable, but it is founded on scientific research.

Neighborhood’s characteristics browser treatment (NCBT):
*Beneficiaries will have access to a neighborhood browser in the platform where they can enter an address, street intersections or specific place. They will then learn characteristics of the respective neighborhood in the following key indicators:
1. Age distribution within the neighborhood.
2. The proportion of residents in the neighborhood with a higher education degree or a higher technical education degree.
3. The Luminosity Index measures the proportion of the public sector that has public lighting provision.
4. Schooling education index: Based on the SIMCE test, this index displays the average test score in language and math for the schools closest to the neighborhood.

Each treatment arm is a combination of the treatments mentioned previously. The design will allow us to determine which barriers are more important in terms of mobility preferences and which strategies to increase lease-up rate and opportunity moves are more cost-effective. The various treatment arms are defined as follows:

Control: Does not receive any of the previously mentioned treatments. They experience the policy’s business as usual.

Treatment 1 - Voucher Information: Beneficiaries receive VUIT, which means they are encouraged to use the voucher and are given information on how to do so.

Treatment 2 - Voucher Information + Neighborhood effect: Beneficiaries are given VUIT and NEIT, which means they are encouraged to use the voucher, are given information on how to do so, and are informed why moving to a better neighborhood is important for their future.

Treatment 3 - Voucher Information + Neighborhood effect + Neighborhood Browser: Beneficiaries receive VUIT, NEIT, and NCBT, which means they are encouraged to use the voucher, are given information on how to do so, are informed about why choosing a better neighborhood is important for their future, and have information about neighborhood’s key characteristics.
Intervention Start Date
2022-03-09
Intervention End Date
2023-03-09

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Residential mobility (=1 if the beneficiary changed her neighborhood)
Previous and current residency geocoded location to link to neighborhood level data
Use of the voucher (=1 if the beneficiary used their voucher)
Time span between voucher assignment public announcement and lease-up.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Beliefs on the relevance of their neighborhood on well-being
Beliefs on neighborhood quality.
Preferences for immobility.
Self reported searching efforts (Number of houses taken into account to lease-up, frequency of contact with landlords, time spent searching, among others).
Interaction with mails (opened, clicked)
Access to platform
Information seen
Time spent on each information section
Addresses searched in the browser
Other information about navigation (clicks in key buttons, answers to quick surveys, among others).
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Our experimental sample consists of 11,417 recipients of rental housing vouchers in the 2021 Regular round of the program, divided into 4 cohorts. The first cohort received the voucher in July 2021, the second cohort received it in October 2021, the third in December 2021 and the fourth in January 2022.

We will conduct an stratified randomization considering the following categorical variables:
• Region of residency: The geographical stratification seeks to ensure balance in the sample in types of rental markets that have significant heterogeneity across the national territory.
• Beneficiary cohort: The randomization will take into account the cohort to which the beneficiary was assigned.
• Tenancy: Tenant is a dummy variable that indicates whether or not the family is renting the unit where they lived at the time of the application. This dummy variable stratifies based on the different costs and benefits of using the subsidy between a beneficiary who doubles up with other families and another who rents a household at the time of application.
• Family with children in school age (5-18 years): The stratification by this variable is based on the various mobility constraints that these families face.
• Family who responded the baseline survey: Is a dummy variable that indicates if the family responded the online baseline survey sent before they know they are voucher recipients.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Randomization at the individual level (beneficiaries of the housing choice voucher)
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
0
Sample size: planned number of observations
11,417 voucher recipients
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment 1: 2.855
Treatment 2: 2.839
Treatment 3: 2.865
Control: 2.858
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
between 0.085 and 0.15 standard deviations (see pre analysis plan)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Comité de Ética y Bioseguridad para la Investigación de la Facultad de Ciencias Físicas y Matemáticas de la Universidad de Chile
IRB Approval Date
2021-03-24
IRB Approval Number
200915006
Analysis Plan

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