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Transparency in Anti-Poverty Programs
Last registered on March 20, 2014

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Transparency in Anti-Poverty Programs
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000096
Initial registration date
November 20, 2013
Last updated
March 20, 2014 2:15 AM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Harvard University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
MIT
PI Affiliation
MIT
PI Affiliation
SMERU
PI Affiliation
Columbia
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2012-10-01
End date
2014-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The Raskin program is a national program by the Government of Indonesia (GOI) that provides subsidized rice to the poor. It is the largest social assistance program in Indonesia. However, many households fail to receive their entitled subsidy. The study aims to test two aspects: (1) whether providing identification cards for beneficiaries reduces leakages and (2) whether allowing competition for the right to distribute Raskin within the village will improve the program efficiency. The project is being conducted in 572 villages and comprises two phases. During the first phase, the GOI is testing the effect of providing beneficiaries with Government issued different types of Raskin ID cards and is testing whether the effect of the cards differs by how intensive the information campaigns surrounding the cards is. During the project’s second phase, we will randomly assign the village to either a community distribution treatment, an information treatment, or a control group. In the community distribution treatment, community members will be given a chance to bid for the right to distribute Raskin in randomly selected villages (the parameters of the bidding are also being varied); in the monitoring treatment, meetings will be held to provide information on the state of the Raskin program to community members.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Banerjee, Abhijit et al. 2014. "Transparency in Anti-Poverty Programs." AEA RCT Registry. March 20. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.96-2.0.
Former Citation
Banerjee, Abhijit et al. 2014. "Transparency in Anti-Poverty Programs." AEA RCT Registry. March 20. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/96/history/1355.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention (1): Test the effect of providing identification cards to beneficiaries. This is done by introducing identification cards for Raskin beneficiary households in 378 villages (out of 572 villages). In 192 of these villages (randomly selected), there will be an enhanced information campaign on how to use the identification cards, consisting of a one-time meeting with village leaders and additional informational posters in the villages.
Intervention (2): Engage community in the distribution of Raskin in the village, by conducting an open bid process to determine who distributes Raskin (in 191 villages), or by conducting a community meeting to disseminate information on how Raskin is distributed (in 96 villages)
Intervention Start Date
2012-10-01
Intervention End Date
2014-02-28
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Implementation and process, price, leakage (quantity received, subsidy received) and targeting, satisfaction (please see pre-analysis plan in Hypothesis Registry)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We sampled 572 villages, each of which possessed Raskin beneficiary households. Out of these 572 villages, 378 villages were randomly selected to receive Raskin identification cards. Of these 378 villages, 192 villages were visited by facilitators, who posted informational posters in the village and conducted a meeting with the village’s community leaders to explain how the Raskin card is used.

After six months, facilitators return to 287 out of the 572 villages above, where we engage the community in the distribution of Raskin in the village, by conducting an open bid to determine who distributes Raskin (in 191 villages), or by conducting a community meeting to disseminate information on how Raskin is distributed (in 96 villages).

The goal is to compare the outcome of those receiving Raskin identification cards, enhanced socialization and/or community engagement (the control group) with those who did not (the control group) in order to estimate the impacts of increasing program transparency of and engaging community in the distribution of Raskin. We will interview households in the 572 villages over the course of a year (specifically after 3 months, 7 months and 14 months) to conduct short and longer-term follow-ups.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Village
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
572 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
4,572 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Intervention (1): 378 villages were randomly selected to receive Raskin identification cards and 194 villages as control.
Intervention (2): 191 villages conducted an open bid to determine who distributes Raskin, 96 village conducted a community meeting to disseminate information on how Raskin is distributed and 285 villages as control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Harvard
IRB Approval Date
2012-07-11
IRB Approval Number
F22629-101
IRB Name
COUHES
IRB Approval Date
2012-05-17
IRB Approval Number
1204005012
IRB Name
Colombia
IRB Approval Date
2012-07-10
IRB Approval Number
IRB –AAAK2111
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
February 28, 2014, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
February 28, 2014, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
572 villages
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Intervention (1): 378 villages were randomly selected to receive Raskin identification cards and 194 villages as control. Intervention (2): 191 villages conducted an open bid to determine who distributes Raskin, 96 village conducted a community meeting to disseminate information on how Raskin is distributed and 285 villages as control.
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
Outsourcing government service provision to private firms can improve efficiency and reduce rents, but there are risks that non-contractible quality will decline and that reform could be blocked by vested interests exactly where potential gains are greatest. We examine these issues by conducting a randomized field experiment in 572 Indonesian localities in which a procurement process was introduced that allowed citizens to bid to take over the implementation of a subsidized rice distribution program. This led 17 percent of treated locations to switch distributors. Introducing the possibility of outsourcing led to a 4.6 percent reduction in the markup paid by households. Quality did not suffer and, if anything, households reported the quality of the rice improved. Bidding committees may have avoided quality problems by choosing bidders who had relevant experience as traders, even if they proposed slightly higher
prices. Mandating higher levels of competition by encouraging additional bidders further reduced prices. We document offsetting effects of having high rents at baseline: when the initial price charged was high and when baseline satisfaction levels were low, entry was higher and committees were more likely to replace the status quo distributor; but, incumbents measured to be more dishonest on an experimental measure of cheating were also more likely to block the outsourcing process. We find no effect on price or quality of providing information about program functioning without the opportunity to privatize, implying that the observed effect was not solely due to increased transparency. On net, the results suggest that contracting out has the potential to improve performance, though the magnitude of the effects may be partially muted due to push back from powerful elites.
Citation
Banerjee, Abhijit, Rema Hanna, Jordan Kyle, Benjamin A. Olken, and Sudarno Sumarto. "Contracting out the Last-Mile of Service Delivery: Subsidized Food Distribution in Indonesia," Working Paper, December 2015.
Abstract
Redistribution programs in developing countries often "leak" because local officials do not implement programs as the central government intends. We study one approach to reducing leakage. In an experiment in over 550 villages, we test whether mailing cards with program information to targeted beneficiaries increases the subsidy they receive from a subsidized
rice program. On net, beneficiaries received 26 percent more subsidy in card villages. Ineligible households received no less, so this represents substantially lower leakage.
Citation
Banerjee, Abhijit, Rema Hanna, Jordan Kyle, Benjamin A. Olken, and Sudarno Sumarto. “Tangible Information and Citizen Empowerment: Identification Cards and Food Subsidy Programs in Indonesia,” Working Paper, July 2016.
Abstract
Should government service delivery be outsourced to the private sector? If so, how? We conduct the first randomized field experiment on these issues, spread across 572 Indonesian localities. We show that allowing for outsourcing the last mile of a subsidized food delivery program reduced operating costs without sacrificing quality. However, prices paid by citizens were lower only where we exogenously increased competition in the bidding process. Corrupt elites attempted to block reform, but high rents in these areas also increased entry, offsetting this effect. The results suggest that sufficient competition is needed to ensure citizens share the gains from outsourcing.
Citation
Banerjee, Abhijit, Rema Hanna, Jordan Kyle, Benjamin A. Olken, and Sudarno Sumarto. "The Role of Competition in Effective Outsourcing: Subsidized Food Distribution in Indonesia." March 2017.