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E-governance, Accountability, and Leakage in Public Programs: Experimental Evidence from a Financial Management Reform in India

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Listed:
  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Esther Duflo
  • Clement Imbert
  • Santhosh Mathew
  • Rohini Pande

Abstract

In collaboration with the Government of Bihar, India, we conducted a large-scale experiment to evaluate whether transparency in fiscal transfer systems can increase accountability and reduce corruption in the implementation of a workfare program. The reforms introduced electronic fund-flow, cut out administrative tiers, and switched the basis of transfer amounts from forecasts to documented expenditures. Treatment reduced leakages along three measures: expenditures and hours claimed dropped while an independent household survey found no impact on actual employment and wages received; a matching exercise reveals a reduction in fake households on payrolls; and local program officials’ self-reported median personal assets fell.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Clement Imbert & Santhosh Mathew & Rohini Pande, 2016. "E-governance, Accountability, and Leakage in Public Programs: Experimental Evidence from a Financial Management Reform in India," NBER Working Papers 22803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22803
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    Blog mentions

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    1. Banking the Masses: 2018 Edition
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2018-05-07 12:07:20

    RePEc Biblio mentions

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    1. > Political Economy > Political Economy of Asia > Political Economy of India

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    Cited by:

    1. Kanbur, Ravi, 2017. "The Digital Revolution and Targeting Public Expenditure for Poverty Reduction," CEPR Discussion Papers 12089, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Fetzer, Thiemo, 2019. "Can Workfare Programs Moderate Conflict? Evidence from India," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 436, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. Abhijit Banerjee & Rukmini Banerji & James Berry & Esther Duflo & Harini Kannan & Shobhini Mukerji & Marc Shotland & Michael Walton, 2017. "From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 73-102, Fall.
    4. Bottan, Nicolas & Hoffmann, Bridget & Vera-Cossio, Diego A., 2021. "Stepping up during a crisis: The unintended effects of a noncontributory pension program during the Covid-19 pandemic," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C).
    5. Marcesse, Thibaud, 2018. "Public Policy Reform and Informal Institutions: The Political Articulation of the Demand for Work in Rural India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 284-296.
    6. Erica Field & Rohini Pande & Natalia Rigol & Simone Schaner & Charity Troyer Moore, 2019. "On Her Own Account: How Strengthening Women's Financial Control Impacts Labor Supply and Gender Norms," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2201, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    7. Fetzer, Thiemo, 2019. "Can Workfare Programs Moderate Conflict? Evidence from India," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1220, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    8. Ravallion, Martin, 2019. "Guaranteed employment or guaranteed income?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 209-221.
    9. Esther Duflo, 2017. "Richard T. Ely Lecture: The Economist as Plumber," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 1-26, May.
    10. Cristina Corduneanu-Huci & Michael T. Dorsch & Paul Maarek, 2017. "Learning to constrain: Political competition and randomized controlled trials in development," THEMA Working Papers 2017-24, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    11. 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.
    12. Martín A. Rossi & Antonia Vazquez & Juan Cruz Vieyra, 2020. "Information Disclosure and the Performance of Public Investment. The Case of Costa Rica," Asociación Argentina de Economía Política: Working Papers 4424, Asociación Argentina de Economía Política.
    13. Rachid Laajaj & Marcela Eslava & Tidiane Kinda, 2019. "The Costs of Bureaucracy and Corruption at Customs: Evidence from the Computerization of Imports in Colombia," Documentos CEDE 017173, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    14. Erica M. Field & Rohini Pande & Natalia Rigol & Simone G. Schaner & Charity Troyer Moore, 2019. "On Her Own Account: How Strengthening Women's Financial Control Affects Labor Supply and Gender Norms," NBER Working Papers 26294, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Baptiste Venet, 2019. "Fintech and Financial Inclusion," Post-Print hal-02294648, HAL.

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    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • O2 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy

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