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Development Assistance, Institution Building, and Social Cohesion after Civil War: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Liberia

Author

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  • James Fearon
  • Macartan Humphreys
  • Jeremy Weinstein

Abstract

Can brief, foreign-funded efforts to build local institutions have positive effects on local patterns of governance, cooperation, and well-being? Prior research suggests that such small-scale, externally driven interventions are unlikely to substantially alter patterns of social interaction in a community, and that the ability of a community to act collectively is the result of a slow and necessarily indigenous process. We address this question using a randomized field experiment to assess the effects of a community-driven reconstruction (CDR) project carried out by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in northern Liberia. The project attempted to build democratic, community-level institutions for making and implementing decisions about local public goods. We find powerful evidence that the program was successful in increasing social cohesion, some evidence that it reinforced democratic political attitudes and increased confidence in local decision-making procedures, but only weak evidence that material well-being was positively affected. There is essentially no evidence of adverse effects.

Suggested Citation

  • James Fearon & Macartan Humphreys & Jeremy Weinstein, 2009. "Development Assistance, Institution Building, and Social Cohesion after Civil War: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Liberia," Working Papers 194, Center for Global Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:194
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    File URL: http://www.cgdev.org/content/publications/detail/1423322
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    Cited by:

    1. Emla Fitzsimons & Bansi Malde & Marcos Vera-Hernández, 2016. "Spillovers of Community-Based Health Interventions on Consumption Smoothing," Studies in Economics 1611, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    2. Avdeenko, Alexandra & Gilligan, Michael J., 2014. "International interventions to build social capital : evidence from a field experiment in Sudan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6772, The World Bank.
    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. Eric W. Djimeu, 2014. "Does social action fund promote schooling in conflict affected countries? Mixed evidence from Angola," HiCN Working Papers 189, Households in Conflict Network.
    5. 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).
    6. Katherine Casey & Rachel Glennerster & Edward Miguel, 2012. "Reshaping Institutions: Evidence on Aid Impacts Using a Preanalysis Plan," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(4), pages 1755-1812.
    7. Djimeu, Eric W., 2014. "The impact of social action funds on child health in a conflict affected country: Evidence from Angola," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 35-42.

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    Keywords

    Liberia; reconstruction; post-conflict; institution building; democracy; development; peacebuilding;

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