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Can Institutions be Reformed from Within? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment with the Rajasthan Police

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  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Raghabendra Chattopadhyay
  • Esther Duflo
  • Daniel Keniston
  • Nina Singh
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    Abstract

    Institutions in developing countries, particularly those inherited from the colonial period, are often thought to be subject to strong inertia. This study presents the results of a unique randomized trial testing whether these institutions can be reformed through incremental administrative change. The police department of the state of Rajasthan, India collaborated with researchers at US and Indian universities to design and implement four interventions to improve police performance and the public’s perception of the police in 162 police stations (covering over one-fifth of the State’s police stations and personnel): (1) placing community observers in police stations; (2) a freeze on transfers of police staff; (3) in‐service training to update skills; and (4) weekly duty rotation with a guaranteed day off per week. These reforms were evaluated using data collected through two rounds of surveys including police interviews, decoy visits to police stations, and a large-scale public opinion and crime victimization survey—the first of its kind in India. The results illustrate that two of the reform interventions, the freeze on transfers and the training, improved police effectiveness and public and crime victims’ satisfaction. The decoy visits also led to an improvement in police performance. The other reforms showed no robust effects. This may be due to constraints on local implementation: The three successful interventions did not require the sustained cooperation of the communities or the local authorities (the station heads) and they were robustly implemented throughout the project. In contrast, the two unsuccessful interventions, which required local implementation, were not systematically implemented.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17912.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17912

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    Cited by:
    1. Baird, Sarah & Bohren, Aislinn & McIntosh, Craig & Ozler, Berk, 2014. "Designing experiments to measure spillover effects," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6824, The World Bank.
    2. Juan Felipe García & Daniel Mejia & Daniel Ortega, 2013. "Police Reform, Training and Crime: Experimental evidence from Colombia´s Plan Cuadrantes," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010497, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    3. Alexander Libman, 2012. "Learning to Be Different: Quantitative Research in Economics and Political Science," Rationality, Markets and Morals, Frankfurt School Verlag, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, vol. 3(62), December.
    4. Lant Pritchett & Salimah Samji & Jeffrey Hammer, 2012. "It‘s All About MeE: Using Structured Experiential Learning ('e') to Crawl the Design Space," Working Papers 1399, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..

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