x

Please fill out this short user survey of only 3 questions in order to help us improve the site. We appreciate your feedback!
Out of sight out of mind: “Reasonable” bills for water and sanitation services.
Last registered on April 13, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Out of sight out of mind: “Reasonable” bills for water and sanitation services.
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007535
Initial registration date
April 12, 2021
Last updated
April 13, 2021 11:33 AM EDT
Location(s)

This section is unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of South Carolina
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Nairobi
PI Affiliation
Washington State University
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2021-01-01
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In order for utilities to provide high quality water and sanitation services to growing urban populations, they must have a sufficient and stable revenue stream. Utilities must price water and sanitation services to cover the cost of delivering services to existing customers and to invest in expanding the network to reach those who currently lack access to them. The vast majority of utilities in low- and middle-income countries price water and sanitation far below the full cost of providing these services. As a result, utilities will need to increase prices substantially to put utilities on the path to financial sustainability. This will be politically difficult for at least two reasons. First, customers have become accustom to low prices and increased prices are likely to be perceived as a loss. Second, unlike other infrastructure such as roads and electricity, much of the infrastructure required to provide water and sanitation services (e.g., dams, pipelines, treatment plans, pumping stations, and pipes) is out of public sight, which may limit customers appreciation of the capital intensity of water and sanitation service delivery. Building on recent literature on customer perceptions of reasonable water bills, this study seeks to test whether providing customers information about the water and sanitation infrastructure affects their perceptions of what constitutes a reasonable bill for water and sanitation services. In particular, the information treatment in the study (a verbal description of the infrastructure required to deliver water and sanitation services in the study location) will be administered to half the respondents in a telephone survey (n=1000) residential customers’ perceptions of reasonable water bills.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Fuente, David, Cook Joseph and Richard Mulwa. 2021. "Out of sight out of mind: “Reasonable” bills for water and sanitation services.." AEA RCT Registry. April 13. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7535-1.0.
Sponsors & Partners

There are documents in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The primary intervention for this study is information about the infrastructure required to provide water and sanitation services in the study location. The information treatment will be administered during a phone survey related to customer perceptions of reasonable water bills. In particular, half the sample will be provided a verbal description of the water and sanitation infrastructure in the study location before being asked about their perceptions of “reasonable” water bills for improved services.
Intervention Start Date
2021-04-01
Intervention End Date
2021-07-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Customer perceptions of reasonable water bills
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Customers are asked whether 10 different hypothetical monthly bills (ranging from 2 USD per month to local currency 10,000 per month) for the amount of water their household uses are very reasonable, reasonable, neither reasonable or unreasonable, unreasonable, or very unreasonable. Customers are then asked whether the same 10 hypothetical bills for half, double, or four times their household’s water use is very reasonable, reasonable, neither reasonable or unreasonable, unreasonable, or very unreasonable. Customers perceptions of what constitutions a reasonable bill will be the highest amount the customer indicates as “reasonable”. Sensitivity analysis will be conducted using the highest amount deemed “extremely reasonable” as the indicator of a reasonable bill.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Our study population of interest includes residential customers of our partner water utility. The study sample is 1,000 customers with half randomly assigned to treatment and half randomly assigned to control.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is implemented by Qualtrics Software used to collect data during the phone survey.
Randomization Unit
Customer
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
No clusters.
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,000 customers
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Treatment=500 Control=500
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
In the summer of 2019, 353 households were interviewed in person. Forty-three percent were administered an information treatment that consisted of a verbal script similar to the one above and images. They were asked what a “fair” amount would be for 8 m3/month of water use. The control group mean (sd) “fair” price was 4.04 (2.42) USD; the treatment group mean (sd) “fair” price was 5.01 (3.47) USD. The estimated power of this similar study with a sample size of 353 is 0.858. For a similar effect size, a sample size of 302 is required for a power of 80%. In this study, the question related to respondents’ perceptions of reasonable bills for their own water use has a sample size of 1000. The question for respondents’ perceptions of others water use has a sample size of 333. Thus, the study is adequately powered for both means of eliciting respondents’ perceptions of reasonable water bills.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
University of South Carolina
IRB Approval Date
2020-11-17
IRB Approval Number
Pro00105903