Information Bypass: Using Low-Cost Technological Innovations to Curb

43 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2022

See all articles by Sheetal Sekhri

Sheetal Sekhri

Department of Economics, University of Virginia

Sisir Debnath

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

Mrithyunjayan Nilayamgode

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

Distribution networks entrusted to run welfare programs can have enduring leakages due to expensive monitoring of agents at several echelons. This paper features a technological innovation harnessing low-cost computing that can help to curb leakages and reduce inefficiencies in such complex welfare distribution networks. A phone-based ‘Interactive Voice Response System’ that requires the last-mile distribution agents to report the number of beneficiaries at a very high frequency concurrently with business-as-usual beneficiary information reporting by the middle-tier delivery agents serves as a mechanism for increasing accountability. Using the roll-out of this system, we demonstrate that this innovation reduced leakage in school lunch provision in Bihar, India. While independently collected data highlights improvements in delivery, official statistics indicate a decline in the school lunches provision. We use within Bihar cellular towers location to bolster our identification in an instrumental variable framework.

Keywords: Welfare programs, ICT, Leakages, Mid-day Meals JEL Codes: D73, I38, O38

Suggested Citation

Sekhri, Sheetal and Debnath, Sisir and Nilayamgode, Mrithyunjayan, Information Bypass: Using Low-Cost Technological Innovations to Curb. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4084289 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4084289

Sheetal Sekhri (Contact Author)

Department of Economics, University of Virginia ( email )

P.O. Box 400182
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
United States

Sisir Debnath

Indian Institute of Technology Delhi ( email )

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Hauz Khas
New Delhi, DE Delhi 110016
India

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/a/virginia.edu/sisir-debnath

Mrithyunjayan Nilayamgode

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
6
Abstract Views
58
PlumX Metrics