Can Information Reduce Nonpayment for Public Utilities? Experimental Evidence from South Africa
Nonpayment for public utilities is an important constraint to expanding service access in developing countries. As a potential policy response, this study implements and evaluates a randomized water education campaign in a low income peri-urban area in South Africa. We estimate substantial treatment effects: on the order of a 30% increase in payments over a three-month period. Surprisingly, these effects are not driven by an increase in householdsâ€™ knowledge. We consider various possible explanations, and argue that the intervention likely had "nudging" effects on households. Our findings have important implications for understanding energy conservation and other public information campaigns.
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