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Direct Democracy and Resource Allocation: Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan

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  • 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)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov, 2013. "Direct Democracy and Resource Allocation: Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan," Working Papers w0192, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  • Handle: RePEc:cfr:cefirw:w0192
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    Cited by:

    1. Beath,Andrew & Christia,Fotini & Enikolopov,Ruben & Beath,Andrew & Christia,Fotini & Enikolopov,Ruben, 2012. "Winning hearts and minds through development ? evidence from a field experiment in Afghanistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6129, The World Bank.
    2. Matthias Doepke & Michèle Tertilt, 2019. "Does female empowerment promote economic development?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 309-343, December.
    3. 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.
    4. Maarten Voors & Ty Turley & Erwin Bulte & Andreas Kontoleon & John A. List, 2018. "Chief for a Day: Elite Capture and Management Performance in a Field Experiment in Sierra Leone," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 64(12), pages 5855-5876, December.
    5. Galletta, Sergio, 2021. "Form of government and voters’ preferences for public spending," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 186(C), pages 548-561.
    6. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Georgy Egorov & Ruben Enikolopov, 2016. "Electoral Rules and Political Selection: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(3), pages 932-968.
    7. Chapman, Jonathan, 2018. "Democratic Reform and Opposition to Government Expenditure: Evidence from Nineteenth-Century Britain," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 13(4), pages 363-404, October.
    8. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov, 2013. "The National Solidarity Programme: Assessing the Effects of Community-Driven Development in Afghanistan," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2013-112, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Moricz, Sara & Sjöholm, Fredrik, 2014. "The Effect of Elections on Economic Growth: Results from a Natural Experiment in Indonesia," Working Papers 2014:15, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    10. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Georgy Egorov & Ruben Enikolopov, 2014. "Electoral Rules and the Quality of Politicians: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," NBER Working Papers 20082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Funk, Patricia & Litschig, Stephan, 2020. "Policy choices in assembly versus representative democracy: Evidence from Swiss communes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 182(C).
    12. Beath, A. & BenYishay, A. & d’Adda, G. & Grosjean, P. & Weber, R.A., 2018. "Can vouchers reduce elite capture of local development projects? Experimental evidence from the Solomon Islands," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 117-131.
    13. Stephan Geschwind & Felix Roesel, 2021. "Taxation under Direct Democracy," CESifo Working Paper Series 9166, CESifo.
    14. Avdeenko, Alexandra & Gilligan, Michael J., 2015. "International Interventions to Build Social Capital: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Sudan," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 427-449, August.
    15. Matthias Doepke & Michèle Tertilt, 2019. "Does female empowerment promote economic development?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 309-343, December.
    16. de Renzio, Paolo & Wehner, Joachim, 2017. "The impacts of fiscal openness," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 82521, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    17. Beath, Andrew & Christia, Fotini & Enikolopov, Ruben, 2013. "The National Solidarity Programme: Assessing the Effects of Community-Driven Development in Afghanistan," WIDER Working Paper Series 112, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    18. Benoît Maux, 2018. "On the Necessary and Sufficient Condition for Increasing Direct Participation Rights in Democracies: Comment on “Proposals for a Democracy of the Future” by Bruno S. Frey," Homo Oeconomicus: Journal of Behavioral and Institutional Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 101-109, June.
    19. Madajewicz, Malgosia & Tompsett, Anna & Habib, Md. Ahasan, 2021. "How does delegating decisions to communities affect the provision and use of a public service? Evidence from a field experiment in Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C).
    20. Catalina Tejada & Eliana Ferrara & Henrik Kleven & Florian Blum & Oriana Bandiera & Michel Azulai, 2015. "State Effectiveness, Growth, and Development," Working Papers id:6668, eSocialSciences.

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