Haqdarshak: Accessing Public Services

Project Description

Worldwide, the poor are often unable to access essential safety net programs. This can be due to a lack of information on services for which they are eligible, or to the challenge of navigating the bureaucracy to apply for benefits. We study the potential for innovative technology solutions to radically alter average citizens’ access to the benefits they deserve.

This project brings together an interdisciplinary team to understand the impacts of an innovative technology platform called Haqdarshak, which identifies eligible families and helps them through the process of receiving entitlements. Locally trained intermediaries, Haqdarshaks, use the technology to guide individuals through application processes and assist in collecting required documents and signatures. We envision a pilot of the Haqdarshak model to gauge its feasibility in India, with the goal of a subsequent randomized evaluation to measure the effects of differing implementation strategies on political and economic outcomes.

During the period of the Innovate grant, we will work with the Haqdarshak team to conduct a preliminary evaluation of the application and implementation model. We will also test the proposed treatments for our RCT, which include variations in the selection model for haqdarshaks, the available services, and the fees for these services. Finally, we will use the pilot period to develop a survey instrument and training materials for the RCT.

Lead Researchers

  • Jennifer Bussell, Political Science and Public Policy, University of California
  • Berkeley Rema Hanna, Economics and Public Policy, Harvard University