Working Papers

Dictating Development? The Effects of Local Institutions under Upward Accountability
May, 2020

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.

Are Wikipedia Users Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from Fundraising Trials (with Christian Traxler) [Trial Registry]
October, 2020

This paper analyzes a series of trials that randomly assigned Wikipedia users to different pop-up banners that solicit donations. The trials systematically manipulated the text of the banners. In the spirit of social norm nudging, the trials varied social information about how many other users are donating. The results suggest that the nudge fails. Treatments that indicate higher numbers of donors or higher donation rates do 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 for these findings.

Work in Progress

Time Use with Basic Income: Evidence from a Large-scale Survey Experiment [Trial Registry]
September, 2020

What would people do if they receive cash with no strings attached? I study this question through a large-scale survey experiment with 72,134 respondents in Germany. Treated participants are instructed to imagine a specific Basic Income (BI) scenario and report intentions to change their current time use with this BI. In contrast, control participants are asked to think about and report intentions given their current situation. Outcomes are intended changes to time spent on seven activity fields. I find strong effects from the amount of BI, small differential effects from the duration of BI, and no different effects from the group size of BI recipients. Across all activity fields, intended changes are decreasing in the amount of BI. Overall, the results suggest small or no effects of BI on time use.

Defaults in Online Charity: Evidence from Wikipedia Germany (with Christian Traxler)
September, 2020 (draft available upon request)

Abstract coming soon.

The Effect of Giving Birth at Health Facilities on Fertility
March, 2020

Abstract coming soon.