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The Power of Transparency: Information, Identification Cards and Food Subsidy Programs in Indonesia

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  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Rema Hanna
  • Jordan C. Kyle
  • Benjamin A. Olken
  • Sudarno Sumarto

Abstract

Can governments improve aid programs by providing information to beneficiaries? In our model, information can change how much aid citizens receive as they bargain with local officials who implement national programs. In a large-scale field experiment, we test whether mailing cards with program information to beneficiaries increases their subsidy from a subsidized rice program. Beneficiaries received 26 percent more subsidy in card villages. Ineligible households received no less, so this represents lower leakage. The evidence suggests that this effect is driven by citizen bargaining with local officials. Experimentally adding the official price to the cards increased the subsidy by 21 percent compared to cards without price information. Additional public information increased higher-order knowledge about eligibility, leading to a 16 percent increase in subsidy compared to just distributing cards. In short, increased transparency empowered citizens to reduce leakages and improve program functioning.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Rema Hanna & Jordan C. Kyle & Benjamin A. Olken & Sudarno Sumarto, 2015. "The Power of Transparency: Information, Identification Cards and Food Subsidy Programs in Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 20923, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20923
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    1. Zwane, A. P. & Zinman, J. & Van Dusen, E. & Pariente, W. & Null, C. & Miguel, E. & Kremer, Michael R. & Karlan, D. S. & Hornbeck, Richard A. & Gine, X. & Duflo, E. & Devoto, F. & Crepon, B. & Banerjee, 2011. "Being Surveyed Can Change Later Behavior and Related Parameter Estimates," Scholarly Articles 11339433, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. Vivi Alatas & Abhijit Banerjee & Rema Hanna & Benjamin A. Olken & Julia Tobias, 2012. "Targeting the Poor: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1206-1240, June.
    3. Ravallion, Martin & Dearden, Lorraine, 1988. "Social Security in a "Moral Economy": An Empirical Analysis for Java," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(1), pages 36-44, February.
    4. Rema Hanna & Vivi Alatas & Abhijit Banerjee & Benjamin A. Olken & Ririn Purnamasari & Matthew Wai-Poi & Christian Daude, 2012. "Ordeal Mechanisms in Targeting: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," CID Working Papers 254, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    5. Olken, Benjamin A., 2009. "Corruption perceptions vs. corruption reality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 950-964, August.
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    7. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2004. "Local Capture: Evidence from a Central Government Transfer Program in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 679-705.
    8. Ritva Reinikka & Jakob Svensson, 2005. "Fighting Corruption to Improve Schooling: Evidence from a Newspaper Campaign in Uganda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 259-267, 04/05.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • 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

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