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Title Collective Action and Solid Waste Collection in Zomba, Malawi
Post date 03/13/2019
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

Many political jurisdictions around the world experience a vicious cycle in which too little taxes are collected and too few services are provided: when citizens do not pay taxes, governments cannot provide services; when governments do not provide services, citizens may perceive little reason to pay taxes. With Zomba, Malawi, we assess information-based strategies for improving the tax-and-service relationship between people and their government as a part of the EGAP Metaketa II series of projects.

Fees and charges for city services are the main form of municipal revenue generation in Zomba. The City of Zomba requires that every homeowner pays a “city rate” (the equivalent of a property tax) to finance waste collection, street lighting, road maintenance, and other city services. Many households in the city, however, do not pay these city rates despite their desire for these municipal services. That lack of payment, along with a lack of capacity from the city, has resulted in certain wards of the city not receiving city services, which in turn has had effects on the public health and quality of life for the thousands of people living in those places.

We have designed an information shock that aims to break the vicious cycle created by the lack of service provision and the lack of city rates payment. We expect a break in this cycle will produce a virtuous cycle that encourages more citizens to pay city rates and increases service provision by the city. Formalization of the relationship between the city government and its citizens should also increase citizens' trust and confidence in the city government, and perhaps government in general --- and trust and confidence, in turn, should enhance the ability of the government to serve the public.

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

H0: The treatment will increase information about city rates among treatment households vs. control households. (Confirmatory hypothesis)

H0a: The treatment will increase the salience of city rates among treatment households vs. control households. (Exploratory hypothesis)

H1: The treatment will increase the intent to formalize among treatment households vs. control households. (Confirmatory hypothesis – formalization hypothesis family)

H2: The treatment will increase formalization among treatment households vs. control households.(Confirmatory hypothesis – formalization hypothesis family)

H3: The treatment will increase citizen's access to public services tightly related to the formalization process among treatment households vs. control households. (Confirmatory hypothesis)

H4: The treatment will increase tax compliance among treatment households vs. control households.** (Confirmatory hypothesis – formalization hypothesis family)

H5: The treatment will improve attitudes toward government among treatment households vs. control households. (Confirmatory hypothesis)

In addition to overall improved attitudes toward government, we expect that residents may shift their attitudes about specific issues. We would like to explore which issues may be driving the overall attitudinal changes with the following exploratory hypotheses:

H5A: The treatment will increase beliefs that the city deserves to collect taxes among treatment households vs. control households. (Exploratory hypothesis)

H5B: The treatment will increase beliefs in city service capacity among treatment households vs. control households. (Exploratory hypothesis)

H5C: The treatment will increase beliefs in city enforcement capacity among treatment households vs. control households. (Exploratory hypothesis)

H5D: The treatment will increase satisfaction with city government among treatment households vs. control households. (Exploratory hypothesis)

H5E: The treatment will increase beliefs that others pay city rates among treatment households compared to control households. (Exploratory hypothesis)

Finally, the Taxation Metaketa Pre-analysis Plan proposes two secondary hypotheses:

H6: The treatment will increase citizen's access to other public services among treatment households compared to control households. (Exploratory hypothesis)

H7: The treatment will improve citizen's tax morale more generally and increases willingness to pay taxes not directly involved with the formalization process. (Exploratory hypothesis)

Each of these hypotheses concerns the effect of the intervention bundle on treatment households. In addition to estimating the effect of the information intervention on treatment households, we will also estimate (1) the effect of diffusion from treatment households to control households, and (2) the effect of providing waste collection between the start of the intervention and the end of the intervention.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

We use e a field experiment to test our hypotheses. Data are collected from surveys and administrative data. Our study will take place in ~90 neighborhoods. Of these ~90 neighborhoods, 10 will be reserved as pure control neighborhoods where we will not administer the interventions.

In each neighborhood, we will survey a randomly selected x% of household heads of owner-occupied homes such that the total sample size is n > 1800. In our study, we listed ~2300 homeowners and selected about 78% of each neighborhood. Within the ~80 neighborhoods where the information campaign will take place, half of the surveyed households will be assigned to the information campaign treatment, and the other half will serve as a control group. Households in the control condition will not receive the information bundle but will live in neighborhoods where other people are receiving the information bundle so they may be exposed to information about city rates indirectly from their neighbors and they will be exposed to the increase in service provision that is part of the study.

We reserve 10 neighborhoods as a pure control group in order to estimate the spillover/diffusion of the information treatment from treated households in treatment neighborhoods to control households in treatment neighborhoods. No households in the pure control neighborhoods will receive the information campaign, but pure control households will be exposed to increased service provision.

C4 Country Malawi
C5 Scale (# of Units) ~1800
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? Yes
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? Yes
C8 IRB Number UIUC IRB: 17637 Malawi NCST: NCST/RTT/2/6
C9 Date of IRB Approval May 5, 2017
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Researchers, Institute for Public Opinion and Research
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? not provided by authors
C13 JEL Classification(s) not provided by authors