IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Personalized Information Provision and the Take-Up of Emergency Government Benefits: Experimental Evidence from India


  • Amrit Amirapu
  • Irma Clots-Figueras
  • Bansi Malde
  • Anirban Mitra
  • Debayan Pakrashi
  • Zaki Wahhaj


The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely a ected the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of households, resulting in widespread poverty and food insecurity. To mitigate these e ects, many governments have introduced additionalbenefits as part of their existing welfare schemes. However, there is often a gap between the introduction of these programs and access to the benefits. To shed light on the source of these gaps, we conduct a field experiment with just over 1,000 slum-dwelling households in Uttar Pradesh, India during the COVID-19 pandemic. The intervention randomly exposed individuals to personalised information about government benefits via cell phones. We find that the simple and low-cost provision of personalised information i) increased the accuracy and precision of participants' knowledge about their entitled benefits, ii) increased access to and utilization of benefits, and iii) improved wellbeing (as measured through consumption, food insecurity and mental health). We do not find significant differences in effects based on whether males or females are targeted. Our findings show that there are large gaps in knowledge of and access to government benefits (despite widespread publicity about the programs) which can be reduced via a simple and low-cost information intervention.

Suggested Citation

  • Amrit Amirapu & Irma Clots-Figueras & Bansi Malde & Anirban Mitra & Debayan Pakrashi & Zaki Wahhaj, 2022. "Personalized Information Provision and the Take-Up of Emergency Government Benefits: Experimental Evidence from India," Studies in Economics 2201, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  • Handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:2201

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alberto Abadie & Susan Athey & Guido Imbens & Jeffrey Wooldridge, 2017. "When Should You Adjust Standard Errors for Clustering?," Papers 1710.02926,, revised Sep 2022.
    2. Mahesh Vyas, 2020. "Impact of Lockdown on Labour in India," The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, Springer;The Indian Society of Labour Economics (ISLE), vol. 63(1), pages 73-77, October.
    3. Deon Filmer & Lant Pritchett, 2001. "Estimating Wealth Effects Without Expenditure Data—Or Tears: An Application To Educational Enrollments In States Of India," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 38(1), pages 115-132, February.
    4. Abhijit Banerjee & Marcella Alsan & Emily Breza & Arun G. Chandrasekhar & Abhijit Chowdhury & Esther Duflo & Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham & Benjamin A. Olken, 2020. "Messages on COVID-19 Prevention in India Increased Symptoms Reporting and Adherence to Preventive Behaviors Among 25 Million Recipients with Similar Effects on Non-recipient Members of Their Communiti," NBER Working Papers 27496, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Laura Abramovsky & Orazio Attanasio & Kai Barron & Pedro Carneiro & George Stoye, 2016. "Challenges to Promoting Social Inclusion of the Extreme Poor: Evidence from a Large-Scale Experiment in Colombia," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Spring 20), pages 89-141, April.
    6. Raj Chetty & Emmanuel Saez, 2013. "Teaching the Tax Code: Earnings Responses to an Experiment with EITC Recipients," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 1-31, January.
    7. McKenzie, David, 2012. "Beyond baseline and follow-up: The case for more T in experiments," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 210-221.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Derksen, Laura & Muula, Adamson & van Oosterhout, Joep, 2022. "Love in the time of HIV: How beliefs about externalities impact health behavior," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 159(C).
    2. Alloush, Mo & Bloem, Jeffrey R., 2022. "Neighborhood violence, poverty, and psychological well-being," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 154(C).
    3. Antonia Grohmann & Lukas Menkhoff & Helke Seitz, 2022. "The Effect of Personalized Feedback on Small Enterprises’ Finances in Uganda," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70(3), pages 1197-1227.
    4. Jonas Hjort & Vinayak Iyer & Golvine De Rochambeau, 2020. "Informational Barriers to Market Access: Experimental Evidence from Liberian Firms," Sciences Po publications 2020-09, Sciences Po.
    5. Burlig, Fiona & Preonas, Louis & Woerman, Matt, 2020. "Panel data and experimental design," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    6. Premand, Patrick & Stoeffler, Quentin, 2022. "Cash transfers, climatic shocks and resilience in the Sahel," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    7. Eszter Czibor & David Jimenez‐Gomez & John A. List, 2019. "The Dozen Things Experimental Economists Should Do (More of)," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 86(2), pages 371-432, October.
    8. Nathan Fiala, 2015. "Economic Consequences of Forced Displacement," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(10), pages 1275-1293, October.
    9. Adjognon,Guigonan Serge & Nguyen Huy,Tung & Guthoff,Jonas Christoph & van Soest,Daan, 2022. "Incentivizing Social Learning for the Diffusion of Climate-Smart Agricultural Techniques," Policy Research Working Paper Series 10041, The World Bank.
    10. Abramovsky, Laura & Augsburg, Britta & Lührmann, Melanie & Oteiza, Francisco & Rud, Juan Pablo, 2023. "Community matters: Heterogeneous impacts of a sanitation intervention," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 165(C).
    11. Kai Barron & Christina Gravert, 2022. "Confidence and Career Choices: An Experiment," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 124(1), pages 35-68, January.
    12. Ek, Claes & Söderberg, Magnus, 2021. "Norm-based feedback on household waste: Large-scale field experiments in two Swedish municipalities," Working Papers in Economics 804, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    13. Laura Abramovsky & Britta Augsburg & Melanie Lührmann & Francisco Oteiza & Juan Pablo Rud, 2018. "Community matters: heterogenous impacts of a sanitation intervention," IFS Working Papers W18/28, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    14. Sedlmayr, Richard & Shah, Anuj & Sulaiman, Munshi, 2020. "Cash-plus: Poverty impacts of alternative transfer-based approaches," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    15. Blumenstock, Joshua & Dillon, Brian & Aker, Jenny, 2020. "How Important is the Yellow Pages? Experimental Evidence from Tanzania," CEPR Discussion Papers 14489, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Jonas Hjort & Vinayak Iyer & Golvine de Rochambeau, 2020. "Informational Barriers to Market Access: Experimental Evidence from Liberian Firms," SciencePo Working papers Main hal-03389180, HAL.
    17. Akhter U. Ahmed & John Hoddinott & Naveen Abedin & Nusrat Hossain, 2021. "The Impacts of GM Foods: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial of Bt Eggplant in Bangladesh," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 103(4), pages 1186-1206, August.
    18. Jeffrey D. Michler & Anna Josephson, 2022. "Recent developments in inference: practicalities for applied economics," Chapters, in: A Modern Guide to Food Economics, chapter 11, pages 235-268, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    19. Alderman, Harold & Gilligan, Daniel O. & Leight, Jessica & Mulford, Michael & Tambet, Heleene, 2022. "The role of poultry transfers in diet diversity: A cluster randomized intent to treat analysis," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 107(C).
    20. repec:hal:wpspec:info:hdl:2441/6jahov5tde8vt9aplqrgg3trl4 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Khushbu Mishra & Richard A. Gallenstein & Mario J. Miranda & Abdoul G. Sam & Patricia Toledo & Francis Mulangu, 2021. "Insured Loans and Credit Access: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Northern Ghana," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 103(3), pages 923-943, May.

    More about this item


    COVID-19; Government Benefits; Emergency Aid; Information Intervention;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:2201. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Dr Anirban Mitra (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.