Combating Covid-19

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We are supporting the fight against COVID-19 in Mozambique by collecting survey data and testing public health interventions over the phone.

We seek to support the Mozambican COVID-19 response, in collaboration with the government’s health research center for the central region, by following up on a study sample of a randomized controlled trial in Mozambique. Sample households will be contacted by phone and administered several rounds of surveys regarding COVID-19 knowledge, beliefs, and behavior. We will randomize novel over-the-phone interventions to test if we can encourage social distancing by accelerating changes in community norms and improve knowledge about COVID-19 via incentives and tailored feedback. Our findings will support the Mozambican response by informing policymakers of the public's COVID-19 knowledge and behaviors and on which public health messaging strategies are best to pursue given limited resources.

Pre-Analysis Plan

Our analysis plan was submitted to the American Economic Association’s RCT Registry on August 25, 2020, under registration ID number AEARCTR-0005862.

Social Distancing Treatments Pre-Analysis Plan

Knowledge Treatments Pre-Analysis Plan

Project Details


This project is funded by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) Innovation in Government Initiative through a grant from The Effective Altruism Global Health and Development Fund (grant number IGI-1366), the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office awarded through Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Peace & Recovery Program (grant number MIT0019-X9), the Michigan Institute for Teaching and Research in Economics (MITRE) Ulmer Fund (grant number G024289),  and the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health.

This study’s protocols have been reviewed and approved by Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) at the University of Michigan (Health Sciences and Social and Behavioral Sciences IRB, approval number HUM00191506) and the Mozambique Ministry of Health National Committee on Bioethics for Health (Portuguese acronym CNBS, reference number 302/CNBS/20). The study was submitted to the American Economic Association’s RCT Registry on March 8, 2019, registration ID number AEARCTR-0005862:

COVID-19 Survey Timeline




Correcting Perceived Social Distancing Norms to Combat COVID-19 (also available through the National Bureau of Economic Research)

Authors: James Allen IV, Arlete Mahumane, James Riddell IV, Tanya Rosenblat, Dean Yang, and Hang Yu

Abstract: Can informing people of high rates of community support for social distancing encourage them to do more of it? Our Mozambican study population underestimated the rate of community support for social distancing, believing support to be only 69%, while the true share was 98%. In theory, informing people of high rates of community support has ambiguous effects on social distancing, depending on whether a perceived-infectiousness effect dominates a free-riding effect. We randomly assigned a “social norm correction” treatment, informing people of true high rates of community support for social distancing. We examine an improved measure of social distancing combining detailed self-reports with reports on the respondent by others in the community. The treatment increases social distancing where COVID-19 case loads are high (where the perceived-infectiousness effect dominates), but decreases it where case loads are low (where free-riding dominates). Separately, randomized local-leader endorsements of social distancing are ineffective. As COVID-19 case loads continue to rise, interventions such as the “social norm correction” treatment should show increased effectiveness at promoting social distancing.

Learning about COVID-19: Improving Knowledge via Incentives and Feedback

Authors: James Allen IV, Arlete Mahumane, James Riddell IV, Tanya Rosenblat, Dean Yang, and Hang Yu

Abstract: Interventions to promote learning are often categorized into supply- and demand-side approaches. In a randomized experiment to promote learning about COVID-19 among Mozambican adults, we study the interaction between a supply and a demand intervention, respectively: 1) teaching, and 2) providing financial incentives to learners. In theory, teaching and learner-incentives may be substitutes (crowding out one another) or complements (enhancing one another). While experts surveyed in advance predicted that the two would be substitutes, we instead find they are complements. The combination of teaching and incentive treatments has a substantial effect on COVID-19 knowledge test scores, raising them by 0.5 standard deviations.

  • Keywords: COVID-19, knowledge acquisition, health behavior, Mozambique, sub-Saharan Africa
  • JEL Classifications: I12 (health, general), I12 (health behavior), D90 (micro-based behavioral economics, general)
  • Presentations: Northwestern University | Human Capital, History, Demography, & Development (H2D2), University of Michigan

Round 2 Survey

Round 3 Survey

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