Attitudes and attributes: a field experiment with public officials and transfer recipients In Colombia
AbstractAny system of transfer payments must be administered by officials with some degree of discretionary power over the manner in which funds are allocated. Attitudes of such officials regarding the worthiness of various recipients therefore have implications for resource allocation. Using a sample of actual public servants working in education, health, child care and nutrition programs, and a sample of potential and actual beneficiaries of such programs, we attempt to identify the set of recipient attributes that induce the most generous responses from officials. This is done using a design we call the “distributive dictator game” which requires officials to rank recipients, with the understanding that a higher ranking corresponds to an increased likelihood of getting a voucher convertible into cash. Interpreting the ranking as the outcome of a random utility model, we estimate the effects of recipient attributes using a rank-order logistic regression. We find that public officials tend to favor women, married persons, individuals with many minor dependents, and refugees from political violence.
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