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The devil is in the details: The successes and limitations of bureaucratic reform in India

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  • Dhaliwal, Iqbal
  • Hanna, Rema

Abstract

Using a biometric technology to monitor the attendance of public health workers in India resulted in a 15 percent increase in staff presence, particularly for lower-level staff. The monitoring program led to a reduction in low-birth weight babies, highlighting the importance of improving provider presence. But, despite the government initiating this reform, there was ultimately a low demand by the government to use the higher quality attendance data available in real time to enforce their existing human resource policies (e.g. leave or salary deductions) due to logistical challenges and a not unrealistic fear of generating staff discord or increase in staff attrition, especially among doctors, who showed the least improvement in attendance. While we observed some gains from this type of monitoring program, technological solutions by themselves will not improve attendance of government staff without a willingness to use the data generated to enforce existing penalties.

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  • Dhaliwal, Iqbal & Hanna, Rema, 2017. "The devil is in the details: The successes and limitations of bureaucratic reform in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 1-21.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:124:y:2017:i:c:p:1-21
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2016.08.008
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    2. Andrew Dustan & Stanislao Maldonado & Juan Manuel Hernandez-Agramonte, 2018. "Motivating bureaucrats with non-monetary incentives when state capacity is weak: Evidence from large-scale field experiments in Peru," Working Papers 136, Peruvian Economic Association.
    3. Jishnu Das & Alaka Holla & Aakash Mohpal & Karthik Muralidharan, 2016. "Quality and Accountability in Health Care Delivery: Audit-Study Evidence from Primary Care in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(12), pages 3765-3799, December.
    4. Andrew Dustan & Juan Manuel Hernandez-Agramonte & Stanislao Maldonado, 2018. "Motivating bureaucrats with non-monetary incentives when state capacity is weak: Evidence from large-scale," Natural Field Experiments 00664, The Field Experiments Website.
    5. Thomas Bossuroy & Clara Delavallade & Vincent Pons, 2019. "Biometric Tracking, Healthcare Provision, and Data Quality: Experimental Evidence from Tuberculosis Control," NBER Working Papers 26388, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Boas, Taylor C. & Hidalgo, F. Daniel, 2019. "Electoral incentives to combat mosquito-borne illnesses: Experimental evidence from Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 89-99.
    7. Zamboni, Yves & Litschig, Stephan, 2018. "Audit risk and rent extraction: Evidence from a randomized evaluation in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 133-149.
    8. Donna Harris & Oana Borcan & Danila Serra & Henry Telli & Bruno Schettini & Stefan Dercon, 2022. "Proud to belong: The impact of ethics training on police officers," CSAE Working Paper Series 2022-05, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    9. Stuti Khemani, 2020. "An Opportunity to Build Legitimacy and Trust in Public Institutions in the Time of COVID-19," World Bank Publications - Reports 33715, The World Bank Group.
    10. Ernesto Dal Bó & Frederico Finan & Nicholas Y. Li & Laura Schechter, 2021. "Information Technology and Government Decentralization: Experimental Evidence From Paraguay," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 89(2), pages 677-701, March.
    11. Berry, James & Mehta, Saurabh & Mukherjee, Priya & Ruebeck, Hannah & Shastry, Gauri Kartini, 2021. "Crowd-out in school-based health interventions: Evidence from India’s midday meals program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 204(C).
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    13. Pedro Naso, 2019. "Environmental Regulation in a Transitional Political System: Delegation of Regulation and Perceived Corruption in South Africa," CIES Research Paper series 59-2019, Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute.

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