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Improving Last-Mile Service Delivery using Phone-Based Monitoring

Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus, Sandip Sukhtankar, Jeffrey Weaver

NBER Working Paper No. 25298
Issued in November 2018
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Public Economics, Political Economy, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Improving "last mile" public-service delivery is a recurring challenge in developing countries. Could the rapid adoption of mobile phones provide a simple, cost-effective means to do so? We evaluate the impact of a phone-based monitoring system on improving the delivery of a program that transferred nearly a billion dollars to farmers in the Indian state of Telangana, using an at-scale experiment randomized across 5.7 million farmers. A randomly selected sample of officials were told that a representative sample of beneficiaries in their jurisdiction would be called to measure the quality of program implementation. This simple announcement led to a 1.5% increase in the number of farmers receiving their benefits, with a 3.3% increase among farmers in the bottom quartile of landholdings. The program was highly cost-effective, with a cost of 3.6 cents for each additional dollar delivered.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25298

 
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