The Economic Consequences of Loneliness Among the Elderly

Last registered on April 21, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

The Economic Consequences of Loneliness Among the Elderly
Initial registration date
April 20, 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
April 21, 2021, 10:42 AM EDT

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



Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PI Affiliation
Stanford University
PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PI Affiliation
Government of Tamil Nadu

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Unique Protocol ID, 172020
Elderly individuals across the world are increasingly living alone. However, little is known about the effects of loneliness on economic and health outcomes. The elderly living alone (i.e., in a household of size 1) will be randomized into one of two cross-randomized intervention arms or a control condition to improve older individuals' mental wellbeing as well as ability to cover basic needs, particularly in times of COVID (including health). The first intervention will focus on improving the elderly's outlook on life and relationships through problem-solving therapy (PST) delivered over the phone. The second will deliver to them a one-time cash transfer of Rs.1000, equivalent to the emergency help amount distributed to ration card holder by the government of Tamil Nadu. Each intervention will be offered on its own in each of two treatment arms, and in combination in a third. A control group will receive no intervention. Investigators will track outcomes of the elderly at 1 month, 3 months, and 1 year after the intervention.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Duflo, Esther et al. 2021. "The Economic Consequences of Loneliness Among the Elderly ." AEA RCT Registry. April 21.
Experimental Details


The intervention will deliver phone therapy and cash to elders living alone in two cross-randomized arms.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Mental health, mobility, vaccination against COVID-19
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Survival, health status
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The experiment will be conducted in a subsample of 5,000 households identified for a panel survey on the status of the elderly in Tamil Nadu, India. This sample will be surveyed every two years for eight years. The phone therapy and cash interventions will be delivered between the first and second waves of the panel.
Experimental Design Details
From the sample of 5000 households, 1703 were identified as elders living alone. Of the households from these that consented to participate in the study, the sample was stratified by gender and prior phone ownership and randomized into one of four groups: phone therapy only, cash only, phone therapy plus cash, control group.
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done in Stata.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1176 individuals
Sample size: planned number of observations
1176 individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
25% of the sample each is assigned to the phone therapy arm, cash arm, phone therapy plus cash, and control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Approval # 1905836705


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