Preferences for distribution when resources are scarce

Last registered on March 31, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Preferences for distribution when resources are scarce
Initial registration date
March 30, 2021

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
March 31, 2021, 10:45 AM EDT

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


Primary Investigator

University of Milan

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Bocconi University

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
With this project we propose to investigate how providing information on more fragile groups in society will affect the allocation of a scarce resource. Scarcity is defined in reference to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic in the institutional context of Italy, which has been among the most struck countries by the pandemic.
The research aims to analyze if and how, in political communication, different groups of voters react to different messages when dealing with the allocation of public resources. We define fragility as a function of the resource that needs to be allocated. In particular we focus on four types of fragility: a health fragility, a labor market fragility, a housing fragility, and an economic fragility. Each fragility is linked to a resource: vaccine against COVID-19, ban on layoffs, ban on evictions, governmental non-repayable grants to firms. Respondents to the survey are asked to rank which of the six proposed groups should be prioritized.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Grembi, Veronica and Massimo Morelli. 2021. "Preferences for distribution when resources are scarce." AEA RCT Registry. March 31.
Experimental Details


We design a survey targeting population residing in Italy in the age range 20-70. Respondents are stratified to match the respective adult population on three dimensions (gender, age, region of residence) within both controls and treated.

Using the internet panel of Demetra, we administered a survey to 6,000 respondents living in Italy who are randomly assigned to treated and controls (3,000 respondents for each group).
The survey takes about 12 minutes to complete and has the following components:
1. Introduction to the survey and informant consent
2. Questions about socio-economics and health characteristics of respondents
3. Social desirability score
4. Questions about the working status of respondents before/after lockdowns
5. Questions about the political affiliation of respondents
6. Experimental treatment
7. Questions about the allocations of scarce resources

We focus on 4 primary outcomes and three main heterogeneities. The latter develop on three dimensions: a moral dimension (being religious or not); an economic dimension (fearing to lose the job or have faced economic distress in the aftermath of the pandemic); and a political dimension (a range from left to right).
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. The allocation of the COVID-19 vaccine to different categories
2. The extension of the firing ban to different categories
3. The extension of the eviction ban to different categories
4. The allocation of non-repayable grants to different categories of firms
5. The supply of in-presence schooling to different categories of pupils

For example, in case of the COVID-19 vaccination program, the question is as follows:
“In your opinion, which of the following categories of individuals should be given priority for the vaccination against the COVID-19? Order them from the highest priority (1) to lowest priority (6).
- Employed
- Employed suffering from disabilities or chronic diseases
- Unemployed
- Unemployed suffering from disabilities or chronic diseases
- Retired
- Individuals younger than 26 ”
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Randomized trial at individual level to two arms (control and treated)
The treatment provides information about what are the most exposed groups in the Italian society to a certain economic or health-related threat. It consists of: (i) some statistics on COVID-19 infections and death by age combined with a description of the higher probability to die due to chronic diseases regardless of the age; (ii) general statistics on the overall impact of COVID-19 on businesses’ closures combined with specific statistics on the most affected types of firms (e.g., firms with less than 50 employees); (iii) general statistics on the phenomenon of poverty in Italy combined with information on which groups of the population are more exposed to poverty; and (iv) general statistics on the share of unemployed capable to find a new job soon after being fired combined with statistics on how these shares increase with age, gender or having an handicap. Differently, respondents in the control group are provided only with the general statistics on each topic.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
6,000 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Comitato Etico University of Milan
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Parere n.20/21


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Collection Completion Date
March 26, 2021, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials