Public Goods, Taxation, and Political Participation: Evidence from A Field Experiment in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Last registered on April 12, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Public Goods, Taxation, and Political Participation: Evidence from A Field Experiment in Freetown, Sierra Leone
Initial registration date
April 12, 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
April 12, 2022, 8:26 AM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

University of Mannheim

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This study investigates the effects of targeted information about public service provision on citizen beliefs about the government, taxation, and their intention to participate politically in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Publicly available data on services provided by the Freetown City Council (FCC) is used to inform citizens about public services in their area. Treated individuals receive both an information call and a short message including information on the type and location of the provided service. To test the importance of individual service preferences, the content of the information calls is randomly varied to match or mismatch individual service preferences elicited at baseline.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Montenbruck, Laura. 2022. "Public Goods, Taxation, and Political Participation: Evidence from A Field Experiment in Freetown, Sierra Leone." AEA RCT Registry. April 12.
Experimental Details


This intervention randomly assigns a subset of individuals to either a match or a mismatch treatment, providing information about the closest location at which the FCC has improved access to public services that match their most or their least preferred type of service, respectively. Individuals receive a short information call, followed by an SMS summarizing the content of the call (i.e., type of service, location, and estimated commuting time). Individuals in the control group do neither receive a call, nor an SMS. This study attempts to measure the effect of the intervention on beliefs about the government and about taxation, as well as the individuals’ intention to participate politically. In a second step, the effects on actual tax compliance will be measured using administrative data. Variation in the preference match will be used to investigate the role of individual service preferences in stimulating both tax compliant attitudes and political participation as a response to information on service provision.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
- Citizen views about the local government: measured using survey data.
- Tax compliance attitudes: measured using survey data.
- Intended political participation: measured using survey data.
- Tax compliance (extensive and intensive margin): measured using administrative data.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
All self-reported outcomes are measured using standardized indices comprised of several key variables (similar to Weigel, 2020). Within the three sets of outcomes, the following indices will be studied:
Citizen views about the local government
- Performance of local government index (approval of local government, confidence in local government, perceived service delivery)
- Integrity of local government spending index (perceived share of revenue put to good use by local government)
- Government responsiveness index (perceived responsiveness of the FCC to citizen needs)
Tax compliance attitudes
- Tax compliance attitudes index (perceived government right to tax, attitude towards tax evasion, perceived appropriateness of tax amount)
Intended political participation
- Role of citizens in politics index (citizen monitoring role, citizen influence, public expenditure accountability)
- Intention to vote index (intention to vote in local/national elections in 2023)
- Intended participation index and single variables (community meeting/contacting ward councillor or member of parliament/meeting with politician/party membership/discussions on social media, TV, radio/political marches)
Property tax compliance is measured based on administrative data using both a tax payment indicator, and the amount of taxes paid.

Weigel, J. L. (2020). The participation dividend of taxation: How citizens in Congo engage more with the state when it tries to tax them. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 135(4), 1849-1903.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The information intervention is administered to a randomly selected subset of individuals around 4 to 6 weeks after the baseline survey. Individuals in the treatment group are called by enumerators and informed about selected services. Enumerators are using a pre-defined script to carry out the information calls and send an automatically generated SMS including the main information (i.e., service type, location, and approximate commuting time) given during the call to the respondent right after the call. The endline questionnaire is administered around 8 to 10 days after the intervention call.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Random assignment to the control group and both treatment arms was conducted in Stata using a specified seed.
Randomization Unit
Individual level randomization was used to assign individuals to the control group and the two treatment arms.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
The endline sample used to investigate self-reported outcomes will have around 3,000 observations (expecting some attrition). Analyses using administrative data on tax compliance will be conducted with up to 5,494 individuals.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Full sample: 1,834 individuals in the control group, 1,829 individuals in the match treatment, and 1,831 individuals in the mismatch treatment.
Endline sample: 1,139 individuals in the control group, 1,126 individuals in the match treatment, and 1,124 individuals in the mismatch treatment.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethikkommission, University of Mannheim
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
EK Mannheim 02/2022
IRB Name
Government of Sierra Leone, Office of the Sierra Leone Ethics and Scientific Review Committee, Directorate of Training and Research
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

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Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials