During 2016-2017, together with two partner organizations in Mexico, Participando por México (PxM) and Observatorio de Desarrollo Regional y Promoción Social (ODP), I conducted a field experiment in the state of Yucatan. The experiment consisted of hiring a non-clientelistic broker trained to facilitate direct access to welfare programs by providing information about eligibility and assisting in the process of applying to welfare — at no cost — to any interested citizen in 75 randomly selected villages.
Field experiments are a messy endeavor and require an immense amount of planning, protocols (for when things go well, but especially for when they go wrong), supporting materials and a strict supervision structure. Here, I will provide a description of the organization behind the field experiment I ran in 2016. This post will be updated gradually and completed upon publication, however, I encourage anyone to email me directly with any request for questionnaires, material or any form used during the implementation.
One of the main materials used in this intervention consisted of a user-friendly handbook of welfare programs and eligibility criteria, which won 2017 Transparency Initiative prize given by Mexico’s National Institute for Access to Public Information (INAI). Together with other civil society organizations in Mexico, we are working on promoting governments to adopt a similar style of presenting information about social programs. You can also follow the advancements on that front below.
Click here for more information on the field experiment!
The pre-analysis plan contains a chapter on ethical concerns that were debated before the implementation of the experiment. You can read about those here. However, during the implementation several new concerns arose. These were discussed with several academics from the Autonomous University of Yucatan, and during a session of the MIT Gov/Lab team. The memo that informed the discussion on the matter can be found here.