The Impacts of Collective Action on Rural Livelihoods

Last registered on July 08, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

The Impacts of Collective Action on Rural Livelihoods
Initial registration date
July 04, 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
July 08, 2022, 9:23 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
University of Maryland

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Securing access to welfare entitlements remains a difficult problem for disadvantaged or minority populations around the world. In India, the flagship workfare and social protection program– Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)– continues to face implementation challenges, limiting its effectiveness as an anti-poverty program. Despite being a self-targeted scheme on paper, poor households often find themselves excluded. We study how collective action amongst low-caste households can (a) improve access to the MGNREGS; (b) improve economic well-being and empower participating members; and (c) generate spillover effects on non-participants and the private labor market. To do this, we partner with an organization in Bihar that mobilizes citizens into ‘member groups’ that collectively take action to access their allotted benefits. The organization has plans to expand to 127 locations in the next five years and we randomize collective action campaigns within this set. The organization will target the treatment locations first and delay targeting control locations until at least one year after they have finished all treatment locations. We measure impacts using publicly available MGNREGS administrative data and surveys with member and non-member households
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Sharan, M.R. and Niharika Singh. 2022. "The Impacts of Collective Action on Rural Livelihoods." AEA RCT Registry. July 08.
Experimental Details


The intervention involves a day-long meeting at a treatment location in order to create ‘member groups.’ Experienced affiliates of the organization start their day by identifying low-caste, and often poor, hamlets at each treatment location. They invite these households, particularly targeting women, to attend a meeting. During this meeting, affiliates: (i) encourage individuals to speak about their problems and experiences; and (ii) discuss their own history, in particular describing the work the organization does to collectively mobilize for welfare benefits to which these households are already entitled. At the end of this meeting, which usually lasts 2-3 hours, they collect contact details of interested participants and plan future meetings. We consider this initial activity to be the intervention.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Take-up: Whether there were interested individuals willing to partake in collective action; Whether and number of members involved with organization, where a member is defined as someone who was willing to pay dues to the organization

2) Administrative NREGA data: Number of person days of work (total and by gender and caste); wages/income (total and by gender and caste).

3) Survey data: consumption; savings; private employment; private market wages; women's empowerment; backlash; political attitudes and aspirations
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The organization is expanding its operations to an additional 127 gram panchayats (GPs), which is a local administrative unit. We have conducted a stratified randomization within this target sample to generate treatment and control GPs. Because the implementation in treatment locations is expected to occur over a period of 12-16 months, we split the sample into two waves to assuage concerns about site selection by the organization and only release the treatment locations by wave. The stratifying variables are: (1) percent of SC households in GP, where we assign each GP to either above or below the sample median of this variable; and (2) an indicator for whether GPs are in ‘wave 1’ or in ‘wave 2’.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in STATA
Randomization Unit
Gram panchayat (GPs)
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
127 gram panchayats (GPs, which is an administrative unit consisting of group of villages)
Sample size: planned number of observations
127 GPs
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
64 treatment GPs, 63 control GPs
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Maryland College Park (UMCP) IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number