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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, Revised in July 2019
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 widespread adoption of mobile phones provide a scalable, cost-effective means for improvement? We use a large-scale experiment to evaluate the impact of phone-based monitoring on a program that transferred nearly a billion dollars to 5.7 million Indian farmers. In randomly-selected jurisdictions, officials were informed that program implementation would be measured via calls with beneficiaries. This led to a 7.6% reduction in the number of farmers who did not receive their transfers. The program was highly cost-effective, costing 3.6 cents for each additional dollar delivered.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25298

 
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