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Comments on "Transparency is Power: Identification Cards and Food Subsidy Programs in Indonesia"

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Comments by Jesper Roine on paper "Transparency is Power: Identification Cards and Food Subsidy Programs in Indonesia" presented by Rema Hanna at the SITE Corruption Conference, 31 August 2015.

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Comments on "Transparency is Power: Identification Cards and Food Subsidy Programs in Indonesia"

  1. 1. THE POWER OF TRANSPARENCY: INFORMATION, IDENTIFICATION CARDS AND FOOD SUBSIDY PROGRAMS IN INDONESIA SITE Conference on Corruption 1 September, 2015 Comments by Jesper Roine, SITE, SSE
  2. 2. MOTIVATION, APPROACH AND MAIN RESULTS •  Question: How to improve food subsidy program –  Currently eligible households receive only about 1/3 of the intended subsidy (both quantity and price problem). •  Approach: Model and field experiment –  Model the interaction between the local official implementing the program and the intended (and unintended!) beneficiaries. –  Run a field experiment with different ways of increasing information of the program to see what seems to work. •  Main results: –  Sending cards with info about the program improves the results. Cards with additional info about price work better and cards+public info work even better.
  3. 3. OVERALL COMMENT •  A great example of applied economics at its best –  Model illustrates the many potential effects that increased information could have for this seemingly “simple problem”. –  Field experiment – closely connected to the model – makes it possible to asses what works and which mechanisms seem most important. •  Rich model and experiment; comments here are limited to a few points
  4. 4. THE STYLIZED SETTING Government (benevolent) Local official (”potentially corrupt” but potentially better informed) Households (both eligible and ineligable, with distributions of beliefs about rights) ”Bargaining” Information 4 main treatments: -  Quantity of rice -  Quantity and price -  Quantity and public information -  Cards with coupons -  Also in some villages info only to a subset of (poor) eligible households
  5. 5. THE STYLIZED SETTING IN PRACTICE Government Local official Households ”Bargaining” Bulk of info cards distributed (or not) by local officials Could this explain low number of cards distributed and also the lack of ”coupon- effect”? Information Also, is it really about information? The card may work as a ”proof” of entitlement. (other work on just info not being enough)
  6. 6. RELATION TO ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES Government Local official Households ”Bargaining” Laundry list of alternatives: -  Change incentives of official(s) -  Change distribution/ administration of how food is sold -  Simplify rules -  More predictable, stable rules -  Increased monitoring -  Better accountability of leaders/officials -  etc
  7. 7. THANKS FOR A GREAT PAPER!

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