While it is known that the use of computers can increase productivity, it is also true that it may promote greater equality. We exploit two natural field experiments related to the renewal of national identification cards in Bolivia and show that applicants randomly assigned to a digital renewal process not only are more likely to successfully complete it but do so faster than when assigned to a manual process. We also show that the introduction of digital technologies substantially removed heterogeneity in the delivery of the public service, especially for individuals of less favored characteristics. Information technologies may help curb petty corruption by reducing discretion.
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We are grateful to seminar participants at Georgia State University, McGill University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Ottawa, and the World Bank’s Annual Bank Conference on Development Economics. We thank Hunt Allcott, Mary Arends-Kuenning, Michele Baggio, Miriam Bruhn, Matias Busso, Marco González-Navarro, Carlos Gustavo-Machicado, two anonymous referees, and the editor (Marcel Fafchamps) for very useful comments and suggestions. Joan Martínez provided excellent research assistance. The standard disclaimer applies. Data are provided through Dataverse at https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/RAI89K.
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