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Data and Policy Decisions: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan

Aug 2020
By  Michael Callen, Saad Gulzar, Syed Ali Hasanain, Muhammad Yasir Khan, Arman B. 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. The system led to rural clinics being inspected 104% more often after 6 months, but only 43.8% more often after a year, with the latter estimate not attaining significance at conventional levels. There is also no clear evidence that the increase in inspections led to increases in general staff attendance. In addition, we test whether senior officials act on the information provided by the system. Focusing only on districts where the app is deployed, we find that highlighting poorly performing facilities on a dashboard viewed by supervisors raises doctor attendance by 75%. Our results indicate that technology may be able to mobilize data to useful effect, even in low capacity settings.