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Reshaping Institutions: Evidence on Aid Impacts Using a Preanalysis Plan

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  • Katherine Casey
  • Rachel Glennerster
  • Edward Miguel

Abstract

Despite their importance, there is limited evidence on how institutions can be strengthened. Evaluating the effects of specific reforms is complicated by the lack of exogenous variation in institutions, the difficulty of measuring institutional performance, and the temptation to "cherry pick" estimates from among the large number of indicators required to capture this multifaceted subject. We evaluate one attempt to make local institutions more democratic and egalitarian by imposing participation requirements for marginalized groups (including women) and test for learning-by-doing effects. We exploit the random assignment of a governance program in Sierra Leone, develop innovative real-world outcome measures, and use a preanalysis plan (PAP) to bind our hands against data mining. The intervention studied is a "community-driven development" program, which has become a popular strategy for foreign aid donors. We find positive short-run effects on local public goods and economic outcomes, but no evidence for sustained impacts on collective action, decision making, or the involvement of marginalized groups, suggesting that the intervention did not durably reshape local institutions. We discuss the practical trade-offs faced in implementing a PAP and show how in its absence we could have generated two divergent, equally erroneous interpretations of program impacts on institutions. JEL Codes: F35, H41, O4 Copyright 2012, Oxford University Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 127 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 1755-1812

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Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:127:y:2012:i:4:p:1755-1812

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  1. Lori A. Beaman & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo & Rohini Pande & Petia Topalova, 2008. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?," NBER Working Papers 14198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bruhn, Miriam & McKenzie, David, 2008. "In pursuit of balance : randomization in practice in development field experiments," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4752, The World Bank.
  3. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
  4. Banerjee, Abhijit & Banerji, Rukmini & Duflo, Esther & Glennerster, Rachel & Khemani, Stuti, 2008. "Pitfalls of Participatory Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Education in India," CEPR Discussion Papers 6781, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Ghazala Mansuri, 2004. "Community-Based and -Driven Development: A Critical Review," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 19(1), pages 1-39.
  6. Jeffrey S. Rosenthal & Martin J. Osborne & Matthew A. Turner, 2000. "Meetings with Costly Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 927-943, September.
  7. James Fearon & Macartan Humphreys & Jeremy Weinstein, 2009. "Development Assistance, Institution Building, and Social Cohesion after Civil War: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Liberia," Working Papers 194, Center for Global Development.
  8. Anderson, Michael L., 2008. "Multiple Inference and Gender Differences in the Effects of Early Intervention: A Reevaluation of the Abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(484), pages 1481-1495.
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Cited by:
  1. Woolcock, Michael, 2013. "Using case studies to explore the external validity of .complex. development interventions," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  2. Christopher Blattman & Nathan Fiala & Sebastian Martinez, 2012. "Employment Generation in Rural Africa: Mid-term Results from an Experimental Evaluation of the Youth Opportunities Program in Northern Uganda," HiCN Working Papers 135, Households in Conflict Network.
  3. Djimeu, Eric W., 2014. "The impact of social action funds on child health in a conflict affected country: Evidence from Angola," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 35-42.
  4. Beath, Andrew & Christia, Fotini & Enikolopov, Ruben, 2013. "Do elected councils improve governance ? experimental evidence on local institutions in Afghanistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6510, The World Bank.
  5. Avdeenko, Alexandra & Gilligan, Michael J., 2014. "International interventions to build social capital : evidence from a field experiment in Sudan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6772, The World Bank.
  6. Abigail Barr & Truman Packard & Danila Serra, 2013. "Participatory Accountability and Collective Action: Experimental Evidence from Albania," Discussion Papers 2013-08, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  7. Hirshleifer, Sarojini & McKenzie, David & Almeida, Rita & Ridao-Cano, Cristobal, 2014. "The impact of vocational training for the unemployed : experimental evidence from Turkey," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6807, The World Bank.
  8. Tessa Bold & Jakob Svensson, 2013. "Policies and Institutions for Effective Service Delivery: The Need of a Microeconomic and Micropolitical Approach," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 22(suppl_2), pages -ii38, August.
  9. Peter Boone & Alex Eble & Diana Elbourne, 2013. "Risk and Evidence of Bias in Randomized Controlled Trials in Economics," CEP Discussion Papers dp1240, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  10. Cho, Yoon Y. & Honorati, Maddalena, 2013. "Entrepreneurship Programs in Developing Countries: A Meta Regression Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 7333, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Kurosaki, Takashi & Khan, Hidayat Ullah, 2014. "Community-Based Development and Aggregate Shocks in Developing Countries: The Experience of an NGO in Pakistan," PRIMCED Discussion Paper Series 54, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  12. Leonardo Bursztyn & Michael Callen & Bruno Ferman & Ali Hasanain & Noam Yuchtman, 2014. "A Revealed Preference Approach to the Elicitation of Political Attitudes: Experimental Evidence on Anti-Americanism in Pakistan," NBER Working Papers 20153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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