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IFS/STICERD/UCL Development Work in Progress Seminar

Personalized Information Provision and the Take-Up of Government Benefits: Experimental Evidence from India

Bansi Malde (Kent/IFS), joint with Amrit Amirapu, Irma Clots-Figueras, Anirban Mitra, Debayan Pakrashi, Zaki Wahhaj

Thursday 24 November 2022 13:00 - 14:00

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About this event

Emergency government benefits are frequently used to mitigate the effects of severe shocks. However, there is often a gap between what people are eligible to receive and what they actually receive. This paper draws on a cluster Randomized Controlled Trial implemented in a large Indian city during the COVID-19 crisis in order to shed light on the role that information plays in accessing government benefits. At baseline, we document that households were simultaneously over-estimating entitlements while receiving less than their entitlement amounts. We then provided households in randomly selected slums with personalised information about their benefit entitlements via SMS messages and phone calls. We find that the intervention increased the accuracy of participants’ knowledge about their entitled benefits. Moreover, it also increased actual receipt of benefits, leading to improved wellbeing – as measured by expenditures, food security and mental health. Exploring mechanisms, we find that the intervention empowered households to act to obtain their entitlements – treated households are more likely to contact or have intentions to contact program officials. They also perceive a reduction in corruption by intermediaries delivering the aid and pay fewer bribes. Overall, our evidence indicates that the intervention reduced informational constraints, altering beliefs and empowering households to claim their entitlements without the need for a bribe.

This seminar series is jointly organized by the IFS, STICERD, and UCL.

IFS/STICERD/UCL Development Economics Work In Progress seminars are held on Thursdays in term time at 10:00-14:00, at the IFS, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar organisers: Oriana Bandiera (STICERD, LSE), Imran Rasul (UCL), Britta Augsburg (IFS) and Jonathan Weigel (LSE).

For further information please contact Lubala Chibwe, either by email: l.chibwe@lse.ac.uk.

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