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Empowering poor people through public information? Lessons from a movie in rural India

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  • Ravallion, Martin
  • van de Walle, Dominique
  • Dutta, Puja
  • Murgai, Rinku

Abstract

Mass public information campaigns have promised to empower poor people, but do they deliver on that promise? We designed and implemented a trial information campaign in poor rural areas of India, in the form of an entertaining movie that teaches people their rights under a large national antipoverty program. In randomly assigned villages, the movie brought significant gains in knowledge and more positive perceptions about the scheme and village life relative to control villages. But objectively measured outcomes showed no gain. The movie changed perceptions but not reality. We conclude that information is not the key constraint in this context.

Suggested Citation

  • Ravallion, Martin & van de Walle, Dominique & Dutta, Puja & Murgai, Rinku, 2015. "Empowering poor people through public information? Lessons from a movie in rural India," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 13-22.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:132:y:2015:i:c:p:13-22
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.09.010
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Philip Keefer & Stuti Khemani, 2005. "Democracy, Public Expenditures, and the Poor: Understanding Political Incentives for Providing Public Services," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 20(1), pages 1-27.
    2. Sah, Raaj, 2007. "Corruption across countries and regions: Some consequences of local osmosis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(8), pages 2573-2598, August.
    3. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2006. "Belief in a Just World and Redistributive Politics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 699-746.
    4. Niehaus, Paul & Sukhtankar, Sandip, 2013. "The marginal rate of corruption in public programs: Evidence from India," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 52-64.
    5. Ghazala Mansuri & Vijayendra Rao, 2013. "Localizing Development : Does Participation Work?," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 11859, August.
    6. Puja Dutta & Rinku Murgai & Martin Ravallion & Dominique van de Walle, 2014. "Right to Work? Assessing India's Employment Guarantee Scheme in Bihar," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 17195, August.
    7. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Vijayendra Rao, 2005. "Participatory Democracy in Action: Survey Evidence from South India," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 648-657, 04/05.
    8. Dutta, Puja & Murgai, Rinku & Ravallion., Martin & van de Walle, Dominique, 2012. "Does India's employment guarantee scheme guarantee employment ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6003, The World Bank.
    9. Marsh, Catherine, 1985. "Back on the Bandwagon: The Effect of Opinion Polls on Public Opinion," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(01), pages 51-74, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ivar Kolstad & Arne Wiig, 2016. "How do voters respond to information on self-serving elite behaviour? Evidence from a randomized survey experiment in Tanzania," CMI Working Papers 9, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    2. Patrick Lubega & Frances Nakakawa & Gaia Narciso & Carol Newman & Cissy Kityo, 2017. "Inspiring women: Experimental evidence on sharing entrepreneurial skills in Uganda," Trinity Economics Papers tep2017, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    3. Anindya Bhattacharya & Anirban Kar & Alita Nandi, 2016. "Local institutional structure and clientelistic access to employment: the case of MGNREGS in three states of India," Working papers 269, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    4. Arthur Alik-Lagrange & Martin Ravallion, 2016. "Social Frictions to Knowledge Diffusion: Evidence from an Information Intervention," NBER Working Papers 21877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Poverty; Public awareness; Information campaigns; Rights; Groupthink; Employment guarantee; Bihar; India;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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