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Leadership and the voluntary provision of public goods: Field evidence from Bolivia

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  • Jack, B. Kelsey
  • Recalde, María P.

Abstract

We conduct a controlled field experiment in 52 communities in rural Bolivia to investigate the effect that local authorities have on voluntary public good provision. In our study, community members pool resources to provide environmental education material for local schools. We find that voluntary contributions increase when democratically elected local authorities lead by example. The results are driven by two factors: (1) authorities, like other individuals, give more when they are called upon to lead than when they give in private, and (2) high leader contributions increase the likelihood that others follow. Both effects are stronger when authorities, as compared to randomly selected community members, lead by example. We explore two underlying sources of leadership influence. First, we provide evidence that the effect of a leader's contribution is not limited to signaling the value of the public good. Second, we examine how leader characteristics affect the likelihood that others follow. Specifically, our study shows that authority influence is driven by a combination of formal leadership status, observable characteristics, and the amount that authorities contribute when they give publicly before others.

Suggested Citation

  • Jack, B. Kelsey & Recalde, María P., 2015. "Leadership and the voluntary provision of public goods: Field evidence from Bolivia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 80-93.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:122:y:2015:i:c:p:80-93
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2014.10.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. repec:eee:soceco:v:74:y:2018:i:c:p:57-69 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Maertens, Annemie & Michelson, Hope & Nourani, Vesall, 2015. "Cooperative Behavior in Farmer Clubs: Experimental Evidence from Malawi," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205551, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    4. Meriggi, Niccolo F. & Bulte, Erwin, 2015. "Local Governance and Social Capital: Do chiefs matter?," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 206136, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    5. Sandra Polania-Reyes, 2016. "Disentangling Social Capital: Lab-in-the-Field Evidence on Coordination, Networks, and Cooperation," Artefactual Field Experiments 00565, The Field Experiments Website.
    6. J. Atsu Amegashie, 2016. "Public Goods, Signaling, and Norms of Conscientious Leadership," CESifo Working Paper Series 6247, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Raymundo M. Campos-Vazquez & Luis A. Mejia, 2016. "Does corruption affect cooperation? A laboratory experiment," Latin American Economic Review, Springer;Centro de Investigaciòn y Docencia Económica (CIDE), vol. 25(1), pages 1-19, December.
    8. Sanjit Dhami & Ali al-Nowaihi, 2016. "Social responsibility, human morality and public policy," Discussion Papers in Economics 16/20, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
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    10. Daniela Grieco & Michela Braga & Francesco Bripi, 2016. "Cooperation and leadership in a segregated community: Evidence from a lab-in-the-field experiment in a South African township," WIDER Working Paper Series 076, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Leadership by example; Sequential giving; Public goods; Voluntary contributions; Field experiment; Bolivia;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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