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Participatory accountability and collective action: Experimental evidence from Albania

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  • Barr, Abigail
  • Packard, Truman
  • Serra, Danila

Abstract

It has been argued that accountability is a public good that only citizens can provide. Governments can put institutions in place that allow citizens to hold public servants to account, but citizens must participate in those institutions if accountability is to be achieved. Thus, citizens face a social dilemma — participate in holding public servants to account at a cost in terms of time and effort or free ride, i.e. do not participate, while benefiting from the efforts of those who do. If this characterization of accountability is valid, we would expect more cooperatively inclined citizens to participate in accountability institutions, while the less cooperatively inclined do not. We test the validity of this characterization by investigating the correlation between individual behavior in a simple public goods game and their participation in local and national accountability institutions in Albania. We involve a nationally representative sample of 1800 adults with children in primary school. We find significant correlations between cooperativeness and participation in school accountability institutions and national elections, both at the individual level and the district level. These correlations are robust to the introduction of many controls in the analysis and, in the case of national elections, to the use of official election turn-out statistics in place of self-reported turn-out.

Suggested Citation

  • Barr, Abigail & Packard, Truman & Serra, Danila, 2014. "Participatory accountability and collective action: Experimental evidence from Albania," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 250-269.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:68:y:2014:i:c:p:250-269
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2014.01.010
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    1. Aflahagah, Fo Kodjo Dzinyefa & Bernard, Tanguy & Viceisza, Angelino, 2015. "Communication and coordination: Experimental evidence from farmer groups in Senegal:," IFPRI discussion papers 1450, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    4. Stephen V. Burks & Daniele Nosenzo & Jon Anderson & Matthew Bombyk & Derek Ganzhorn & Lorenz Goette & Aldo Rustichini, 2015. "Lab Measures of Other-Regarding Preferences Can Predict Some Related on-the-Job Behavior: Evidence from a Large Scale Field Experiment," Discussion Papers 2015-21, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    5. Mbiti, Isaac M. & Serra, Danila, 2018. "Health Workers' Behavior, Patient Reporting and Reputational Concerns: Lab-in-the-Field Experimental Evidence from Kenya," IZA Discussion Papers 11352, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Attanasio, Orazio & Polania-Reyes, Sandra & Pellerano, Luca, 2015. "Building social capital: Conditional cash transfers and cooperation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 22-39.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Accountability; Participation; Elections; Collective action; Public good game;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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