Dictating Development? The Effects of Local Institutions under Upward Accountability
May 15, 2020 (Submitted)
This paper studies the effects of a local institution with and without upward accountability on individual behavior change in Rwanda. Throughout Rwanda, local leaders organize mandatory community meetings on Saturdays to discuss and resolve issues of community concern. I analyze the effects of meetings on contraceptive adoption and bed net acquisition, and leverage a reform that introduced performance incentives for local leaders. Both outcomes were unpopular among the population, but desired by the central government. For identification, I exploit quasi-experimental variation in meetings’ attendance over time induced by exogeneous weather fluctuations. After the reform, I find that a rainy Saturday reduces the probability of contraceptive adoption by 18% and of bed net acquisition by 10% in the same month. Before the reform, rainfall on every weekday, including Saturdays, has no effect. This pattern for two incentivized, but otherwise unrelated behavior changes points to the reform as the common underlying shift. Finally, I present evidence suggesting that behavior change is involuntary. Overall, my findings challenge the presumed downward accountability of local institutions and indicate an interdependence with performance incentives.
Work in Progress
Time Use under Basic Income: Evidence from a Large-scale Survey Experiment
Linek, Maximilian. “Time Use in Hypothetical Basic Income Scenarios”. AEA RCT Registry. October 22, 2018. [Trial Registry]
What would you do if you received basic income? This paper analyzes a survey experiment among 70,541 registered users of a NGO which promotes basic income in Germany. Treated individuals received a hypothetical basic income scenario varying the amount, duration and the number of recipients. Following the scenario, individuals were asked how they plan to adjust their time use across 7 activity categories. I find strong responses to the amount of basic income, but no differential adjustments with respect to duration or the number of recipients. Planned Ajustments are decreasing in the amount of basic income. On average, respondents reduce their working time by 1.5 hours a week for every 500 Euros of additional basic income. Time use increases in all other categories. Contrasted with a pure control group, respondents only adjust time use for basic income amounts larger than 500 Euros. Overall, the evidence suggests that basic income has only moderate effects on time use in general and on working time in particular.
Social Information and Online Donations: Experimental Evidence from Wikimedia (with Christian Traxler)
Linek, Maximilian and Christian Traxler. “No Conditional Cooperation? Trials in a large online Fundraising Campaign.” AEA RCT Registry. November 13, 2018. [Trial Registry]
This paper analyzes six trials conducted on the German website of the world’s largest online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. During fundraising campaigns, Wikipedia users were randomly assigned to different banner messages that solicit donations. The trials systematically manipulated content or framing of social information about how many other users are donating. The results provide no evidence on conditional cooperation: varying social information does not induce conditionally pro-social conduct. In fact, a trial that framed an identical number of donors as small (“few” in contrast to “many”) significantly increased users’ propensity to donate. We discuss several possible explanations of these findings.