Seminar by Mr Amartya Paul: 8 Nov. 2019
A seminar on ‘Using Information and Technology to Improve Efficacy of Welfare Programs: Evidence from a Field Experiment in India,’ was held at the Joan Robinson Hall on 8 November, 2019. The seminar was presented by Mr Amartya Paul, PhD Scholar, CDS. Dr Vinoj Abraham, Associate Professor, CDS chaired the seminar.
Abstract: Does information dissemination among beneficiaries of welfare programs mitigate implementation failures that undermine these programs? We present experimental evidence on this question in the context of the rural public works program in India. A noble intervention that involves accessing micro-level online administrative information of the program and disseminating it to the beneficiaries was implemented in parts of the state of Telangana. Using baseline and endline survey as well as administrative data, we evaluate the impact of this intervention on awareness of the provisions, process, delayed payments and uptake of the program in terms of days worked. The design of the intervention ensured us to examine the effect of spillovers from the intervention as well as look at the impact of heterogeneous intensity of treatment. The findings indicate a positive and significant impact on raising awareness levels, improving the process mechanism and reducing last-mile payment delays. However no significant impact was observed on delays that do not occur at the local level and on uptake as well. The impact of spillovers is also found to be largely positive; however no major difference in impact is found because of the heterogeneous treatment intensity. We argue our design of the intervention and evaluation, can dilute concerns about external validity. Because of definite impact on reduction of local last-mile payment delays and less expensive design of the intervention, we propose it can be utilised by the local authorities and civil society organisations concerned about effective implementation of welfare programmes.