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Direct Democracy and Resource Allocation: Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan

  • Andrew Beath

    ()

    (Office of the Chief Economist for East Asia and the Pacific, World Bank)

  • Fotini Christia

    ()

    (Department of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  • Ruben Enikolopov

    ()

    (Institute for Advanced Study and New Economic School)

Direct democracy is designed to better align policy outcomes with citizen preferences. Using a randomized field experiment in 250 villages across Afghanistan, we compare outcomes of the selection of village-level development projects through secret-ballot referenda and through consultation meetings. We find that elites exert more influence over resource allocation decisions in consultation meetings as compared with referenda. Referenda also improve public satisfaction. The results indicate that the use of direct democracy in public resource allocation mitigates elite capture and results in more legitimate outcomes than those produced by less representative consultative processes.

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Paper provided by Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR) in its series Working Papers with number w0192.

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Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cfr:cefirw:w0192
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  1. Kau, James B & Rubin, Paul H, 1979. "Self-Interest, Ideology, and Logrolling in Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 365-84, October.
  2. Patricia Funk & Christina Gathmann, 2007. "Does direct democracy reduce the size of government? New evidence from historical data, 1890-2000," Economics Working Papers 1123, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 2008.
  3. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," Economics Working Papers 0020, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  4. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov, 2011. "Winning Hearts and Minds through Development Aid: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," Working Papers w0166, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  5. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov, 2013. "Randomized Impact Evaluation of Afghanistan's National Solidarity Programme," World Bank Other Operational Studies 16637, The World Bank.
  6. Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee, 2006. "Decentralisation and Accountability in Infrastructure Delivery in Developing Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(508), pages 101-127, 01.
  7. Peltzman, Sam, 1984. "Constituent Interest and Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 181-210, April.
  8. Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard, 1979. "Bureaucrats versus Voters: On the Political Economy of Resource Allocation by Direct Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 563-87, November.
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