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Empowering IDP with SMS: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Bogotá


  • Mariana Blanco

    () (Universidad del Rosario)

  • Juan F. Vargas

    () (Universidad del Rosario)


We carried out a randomized controlled trial in Bogotá, the recipient of Colombia's highest number of internally displaced people (IDP), to assess whether the use of SMS to communicate eligibility to social benefits fosters the welfare of victimized internal refugees. Only a fraction of IDP are eligible to benefits. We inform eligibility via SMS to a random half of such households, and estimate the Local Average Treatment Effect of the text message on the knowledge of the benefits available to the displaced population. We show that while on average treated households know their rights better than controls, a more disaggregated analysis suggests that there is variation of awareness across benefits. The intervention was overall successful in empowering IDP and the use of SMS should be widened as a social policy instrument. However or results suggest that text messages should be complemented with other communication strategies, yet to be evaluated.

Suggested Citation

  • Mariana Blanco & Juan F. Vargas, 2010. "Empowering IDP with SMS: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Bogotá," HiCN Working Papers 84, Households in Conflict Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:84

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    1. Daniel Mejía & Pascual Restrepo, 2008. "The War on Illegal Drug Production and Trafficking: An Economic Evaluation of Plan Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 005123, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    2. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2009. "The Experimental Approach to Development Economics," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 151-178, May.
    3. Ibáñez, Ana María & Moya, Andrés, 2010. "Vulnerability of Victims of Civil Conflicts: Empirical Evidence for the Displaced Population in Colombia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 647-663, April.
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    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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