“Keep It Simple: A Field Experiment on Information Sharing among Strangers” is the paper just published at the World Bank Economic Review by Nova SBE and NOVAFRICA Professors, Cátia Batista and Pedro Vicente, and the NOVAFRICA external member Marcel Fafchamps from Stanford University.
SMS information campaigns are increasingly used for policy. A field experiment is conducted to study information sharing through mobile phone messages. Subjects are rural households in Mozambique who have access to mobile money. In the baseline intervention, subjects receive an SMS containing simple instructions on how to redeem a voucher for mobile money. They can share this non-rival information with other exogenously assigned subjects unknown to them. Few participants redeem the voucher. They nonetheless share it with others and many share information about the voucher they do not use themselves. The voucher is shared more when no information is provided on the receiver. When partial information is provided, no evidence is found of more sharing with subjects who have similar characteristics. Treatments are introduced to increase the cost of sending a message, shame those who do not send the voucher to others, or allow subjects to appropriate the value of the voucher. All these treatments decrease information sharing. To encourage information diffusion among strangers, the best is to “keep it simple.”
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