Public knowledge about India's ambitious Employment Guarantee Scheme is low in one of India's poorest states, Bihar, where participation is also unusually low. Is the solution simply to tell people their rights? Or does their lack of knowledge reflect deeper problems of poor people's agency and an unresponsive supply side?
In a recent working paper, Martin Ravallion, Dominique van de Walle, Puja Dutta and Rinku Murgai report on an information campaign that was designed and implemented in the form of an entertaining movie to inform people of their rights under the scheme. In randomly-assigned villages, the movie brought significant gains in knowledge and more positive perceptions about the impact of the scheme. But objectively measured employment showed no gain on average, suggesting that the movie created a "groupthink," changing social perceptions about the scheme but not individual efficacy in accessing it. The paper concludes that awareness generation needs to go hand-in-hand with supply-side changes.
Read the entire paper here.