We study how text messages incorporating behavioral insights can be used as a tool to affect civil servant performance when state capacity is weak. By experimentally varying the content of a messaging campaign targeted to civil servants implementing a school maintenance program in Peru, we test the effectiveness of reminders and treatments making salient either monitoring, social norms, the possibility of public disclosure of noncompliance, or audit risk. All messaging treatments improve compliance by similar magnitudes, increasing the probability of submitting a key expense report by an average of 3.9 percentage points over a base of 74%. The inability of this large-scale experiment to detect differential impacts by treatment arm is consistent with timely reminders being the main driver of increased compliance. We explore generalizability across time and populations in two supplemental experiments, confirming the promise of such campaigns to improve civil servant performance when the state lacks enforcement capacity.


  • Andrew Dustan
  • Juan Hernández
  • Stanislao Maldonado

Palabras clave:

  • Behavioral Insights
  • Civil Servants
  • State Capacity


  • Proyecto 2
  • Publicación