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Do informed citizens receive more...or pay more ? the impact of radio on the government distribution of public health benefits

Author

Listed:
  • Keefer, Philip
  • Khemani, Stuti

Abstract

The government provision of free or subsidized bed nets to combat malaria in Benin allows the identification of new channels through which mass media affect public policy outcomes. Prior research has concluded that governments provide greater private benefits to better-informed individuals. This paper shows, for the first time, that governments can also respond by exploiting informed individuals'greater willingness to pay for these benefits. Using a"natural experiment"in radio markets in northern Benin, the paper finds that media access increases the likelihood that households pay for the bed nets they receive from government, rather than getting them for free. Households more exposed to radio programming on the benefits of bed nets and the hazards of malaria place a higher value on bed nets. Local government officials exercise significant discretion over bed net pricing and respond to higher demand by selling bed nets that they could have distributed for free. Mass media appears to change the private behavior of citizens -- in this case, to invest more of their own resources on a public health good (bed nets) -- but not their ability to extract greater benefits from government.

Suggested Citation

  • Keefer, Philip & Khemani, Stuti, 2012. "Do informed citizens receive more...or pay more ? the impact of radio on the government distribution of public health benefits," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5952, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5952
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    File URL: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2012/01/18/000158349_20120118101613/Rendered/PDF/WPS5952.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2008. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Malaria Prevention Experiment," NBER Working Papers 14406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2002. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1415-1451.
    3. Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2006. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 720-736, June.
    4. Keefer, Philip & Khemani, Stuti, 2003. "Democracy, public expenditures, and the poor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3164, The World Bank.
    5. David Yanagizawa-Drott, 2012. "Propaganda and Conflict: Theory and Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide," CID Working Papers 257, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    6. Vivian Hoffmann, 2009. "Intrahousehold Allocation of Free and Purchased Mosquito Nets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 236-241, May.
    7. Prat, Andrea & Strömberg, David, 2005. "Commercial Television and Voter Information," CEPR Discussion Papers 4989, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Pascaline Dupas, 2009. "What Matters (and What Does Not) in Households' Decision to Invest in Malaria Prevention?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 224-230, May.
    9. 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.
    10. 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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    Cited by:

    1. BONAN Jacopo & LEMAY-BOUCHER Philippe & SCOTT Douglas & TENIKUE Michel, 2015. "Increasing anti-malaria bednets uptake using information and distribution strategies," LISER Working Paper Series 2015-03, LISER.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Population Policies; Knowledge Economy; Education For All; Malaria;

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