close× Call Us
close×
Title The Household Welfare and Political Impacts of Increasing Service Predictability: An Experimental Intervention in Bangalore’s Water Sector
Post date 05/14/2015
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale "Throughout the developing world, intermittency and unpredictability are the hallmarks of public service delivery: buses do not run on a standard schedule, water supplies are variable in terms of arrival times, and electricity blackouts occur unexpectedly. Surprisingly, the causes and consequences of unpredictable urban services have received much less attention than patterns of access to, or government expenditures on, these services. While addressing the underlying causes of service unpredictability tends to be very costly (e.g., replacing leaky water pipes or increasing capacity to improve water pressure levels), low-cost informational interventions can potentially help households to cope with service unpredictability. Alleviating coping costs may also change the way in which citizens relate to their local governments. Through a cluster-randomized experiment in Bangalore, we will evaluate a text-message based notification scheme providing households with advance warning of the timing of water services and supply cancellations, and a dedicated contact number for reporting problems. We assess whether the notification system reduces: a) the time spent waiting for water; b) expenditures on substitutes for piped water services; and c) stress levels on account of uncertain and irregular deliveries and uncertainty. We hypothesize that lower- income households will see greater welfare impacts because they have few affordable and accessible alternative water sources. We also examine if, and how, the receipt of real-time information changes how citizens “see the state,” whom they hold responsible for service quality and problems, and whom they approach about service concerns. We hypothesize that the advance notification system will prompt citizens to see the state as more modern and responsive when compared with the status quo, in which the state can only be accessed through intermediaries and low level bureaucrats. This research thus develops a framework within which the material, stress-related, and political impacts of greater predictability in urban services can be assessed."
C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested? "Household Welfare Effects: H1: Household members in charge of managing a household’s water supply will spend less time waiting for water on a weekly basis if they receive accurate prior notifications regarding delivery times and service disruptions. H2: Household members in charge of managing water supply will be better able to participate in community, social, or religious activities if they receive accurate prior notifications regarding delivery times and service disruptions. H3: Household members in charge of managing water supply will be less likely to forego earnings if they receive accurate prior notifications regarding delivery times and service disruptions. H4: Receiving accurate prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will reduce household expenditures on substitutes, such as bottled, vended or tanker water. H5: Receiving accurate prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will reduce the effort households spend securing alternative sources of water. H6: Receiving accurate prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will reduce respondents’ sense that missing or delayed water supply is a constant worry. H7: Receiving accurate prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will reduce the extent to which respondents finding themselves thinking about water supply while doing other things, such as household chores or paid work. H8: Receiving accurate prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will reduce the effort households must expend to secure important information regarding the timing of water deliveries. Political Effects: H9: Receiving accurate prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will improve citizen perceptions of the competence of state water providers. H10: Receiving accurate prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will lead citizens to perceive state water providers as more innovative and modern than previously. H11: Receiving accurate prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will lead citizens to be more likely to perceive state water providers as more universalistic service providers that care about “people like us.” H12: Receiving accurate prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will lead citizens to view state water providers as directly responsible for correcting service problems than previously, when local political leaders and/or intermediaries might have been held responsible. H13: Receiving accurate prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will lead citizens to be more likely to contact the central water bureaucracy directly (through text or phone) than previously. H14: Receiving accurate, prior notifications regarding water delivery times and service disruptions will lead citizens to pay their water bills at a greater rate than citizens who do not receive such notifications. We expect these effects to be particularly pronounced under the following circumstances (i.e., we expect heterogenous treatment effects): -For low-income households -For households living in structures without automatically-filling overhead tanks -For households where someone spends a significant amount of time waiting or worrying about water prior to the intervention. -For households receiving water services that typically arrive on a scheduled supply day within an interval of less than 4 hours -In households where the person responsible for managing and storing water is of working age, and especially where this person is a male of working age -Stress levels for women “waiters” may be reduced more dramatically than those for male “waiters” because domestic water is traditionally a “female” responsibility - Political effects will be greater for marginal households (low income, religious minority, low caste, etc.), because they are less likely to have had influential political intermediaries prior to the intervention -Political effects are likely to vary by neighborhood type (level of cohesion, presence of neighborhood association, etc."
C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? * We will calculate both the ITT and the CACE for the overall population in our study as well as conduct subgroup analysis.
C4 Country
C5 Scale (# of Units) not provided by authors
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 not provided by authors
C9 Date of IRB Approval not provided by authors
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Treatment assignment has been randomized by the researchers, but the intervention itself will be administered by NextDrop (described in our Pre Analysis Plan)
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? Yes
C13 JEL Classification(s) not provided by authors