Replication Researcher: Maria Kuecken (with Marie-Anne Valfort)
Original Paper Title: Fighting Corruption to Improve Schooling: evidence from a Newspaper Campaign in Uganda
Original Researchers: Ritva Reinikka and Jakob Svensson
Original Publication: Journal of the European Economic Association
Replication Plan: Kuecken’s Replication Plan
Current Status: Completed Replication Study
The Original Study
In many developing countries, public institutions are weak and highly corrupt. Thus, social service delivery is often inefficient. One approach to combat corruption is to increase citizens’ engagement in monitoring public programs. The original study seeks to rigorously evaluate a newspaper campaign initiated by the Government of Uganda in the late 1990s to reduce capture of grants allocated to primary schools by local officials. The campaign encompassed information dissemination through national newspapers of monthly transfer of grants to districts and of actual funds received by the schools. By making this information public, it was expected that schools and parents would be able to monitor discrepancies and hold local officials accountable.
A stratified sampling design was employed where two or three districts were selected from each of the seven regions in the country, and 10-20 primary schools were selected from each district (Baseline = 250 schools, 18 districts; Follow-up = 218 schools, 16 districts). The intervention was evaluated through the use of three evaluation approaches: reflexive comparisons (to study the extent to which policy changes in the late 1990s accounted for a reduction in capture), a difference-in-differences and an IV with distance to the nearest newspaper outlet as the instrument (to account for potential endogeneity in newspaper access). A significant negative relationship was found between distance to the nearest newspaper outlet and reduction in capture, thus supporting the concept that less access to newspapers lowered the effectiveness of the intervention. Moreover, reduction in capture was showed to have a positive effect on enrollment and student learning.
In developing nations, supply chain inefficiencies can hinder public service delivery. Resource capture via corruption is one such leakage. In the mid-1990s, only twenty cents to the dollar of capitation grants allocated for primary education actually arrived to schools in Uganda. Reinikka and Svensson (2005) show that bottom-up governance reforms improved head teachers' awareness of the grant program and substantially reduced grant capture. This replication study will examine the robustness of Reinikka and Svensson's two primary contributions: how an anti-corruption newspaper campaign improved the receipt of capitation grants and how this additional funding may have contributed to subsequent increases in enrollment.