Delays in receiving wage payments reduce poor rural households’ ability to manage economic uncertainty and meet their subsistence needs. This is a particularly dire concern for the 50 million impoverished rural households who rely on the payments from India’s federal workfare program, based on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, or MGNREGA. Despite recognition of this critical challenge at the highest levels of government and in the press, the delivery of wages into workers’ bank accounts is frequently delayed beyond the legally mandated 15 days.
This multi-state at-scale RCT evaluates a reform that digitizes a workfare wage payment system using a real-time mobile app, which aims to improve the flow of information and accountability across the organizational hierarchy and the bureaucratic-political divide in India. Specifically, the study investigates how wage payment delays to workers are affected by decreasing the costs of acquiring management-relevant information by lower-level bureaucrats and reducing the costs of monitoring by higher-level bureaucrats.
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