We conducted six Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) across five countries to answer this question. The types of information on incumbent behavior provided to voters include legislative performance (Benin), municipal spending irregularities (Brazil), quality of public services (Burkina Faso), municipal government malfeasance (Mexico), candidate quality via debates (Uganda 1), and budget irregularities (Uganda 2). A planned seventh study on incumbent criminality in India did not take place due to implementation challenges.
This study took place in 16 districts across four regions of Uganda. The sample included 376 health centers, which encompasses nearly every functioning government-run health center in the study districts. In coordination with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to measure the impact of the full ACT Health program and individual components of the program on utilization rates, treatment quality, patient satisfaction, and health outcomes, including child mortality.
The research design combined two sources of variation to create four treatment groups in a factorial design (Table 1). First, the soap opera was broadcast via a community loudspeaker only reaching a portion of the community due to topographical conditions (the natural experiment component). Households within the loudspeaker’s reach were also randomly invited by the regional NGO to listen to the soap opera program at a community meeting, with the remaining households able to hear the broadcast at their homes regardless.
The study was conducted in 26 municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, México, San Luis Potosí, and Querétaro. The municipalities and states were chosen based on holding municipal elections in 2015, municipalities receiving ASF audit results in 2015, security and logistical considerations, and ensuring that incumbents from different parties were proportionately represented within these states.
The authors implement a randomized field experiment to test whether a text message-based ICT program – U-Bridge – improves local government monitoring, frontline service provider efforts, and availability of inputs in education, health, and water in Arua district, Uganda. Researchers first created clusters of villages around Arua’s 48 mid-level government health centers (the unit of randomization). Next, they randomly assigned half of those clusters to the treatment group and the remaining to control.
Information about candidates was provided in video recordings in which candidates answered questions about policy preferences, qualifications for office, personal characteristics, and relevant experiences. The videos were edited to give the appearance of a debate in which all candidates answered one question in turn before moving on to the next question.
The experiment aimed to test hypotheses regarding underlying demand for mobile-based communication with one’s representatives in Parliament in Uganda, as well as the price effect on demand, and how both demand and price effects vary across social groups.