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Data and Policy Decisions: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan

Jan 2018
SCID Working Paper
By  Michael Callen, Saad Gulzar, Ali Hasanain, Muhammad Yasir Khan, Arman Rezaee

We evaluate a program in Pakistan that equips government health inspectors with a smartphone app which channels data on rural clinics to senior policy makers. Data are transmitted in real-time, and submitted reports require timestamps, geostamps, and photos. The system led to rural clinics being inspected 74% more often. In addition, we test whether senior officials act on the information provided by the system. We find that highlighting poorly performing facilities raises doctor attendance by 18.1 percentage points from a dismal base of 24.5%. Our results indicate that technology can mobilize data to real effect, even in low capacity settings.