Using information and technology to improve the efficacy of welfare programmes: evidence from a field experiment in India
Upasak Das, Amartya Paul, Mohit Sharma
Does information dissemination among beneficiaries of welfare programmes mitigate such programmes’ failures of implementation? We present experimental evidence on this in the context of the rural public works programme in India. We assess the impact of an intervention that involved dissemination of publicly available micro-level data on last mile delays in payments and on the uptake of work, along with a set of intermediate outcomes. We found a substantial reduction in last mile payment delays along with improvements in awareness of the basic provisions of the programme and its process mechanisms, while observing a limited effect on the uptake of work. However, we found a considerable increase in uptake in the subsequent period, potentially indicative of an ‘encouragement’ effect as a result of the reduction in last mile delays. A comparatively higher impact of payment delays was found in deprived communities. The findings lay a platform for an innovative information campaign that could be used by government and civil society organisations as transparency measures to improve efficiency.
Information, welfare programme, implementation, randomisation, delay of payments, MGNREGS
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