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Do Elected Councils Improve Governance? Experimental Evidence on Local Institutions in Afghanistan

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  • Enikolopov, Ruben

Abstract

Using data from a field experiment across 500 villages in Afghanistan, we study how electoral accountability of local institutions affects the quality of governance. In villages with newly created elected councils, food aid distributed by local leaders is more likely to reach needy villagers. However, this effect is observed only if the council is mandated to be the entity responsible for managing the distribution. In the absence of such a mandate the presence of elected councils increases embezzlement without improving aid targeting. Thus, while elected councils can improve governance, unclear and overlapping mandates may increase rent-seeking and worsen governance outcomes.

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  • Enikolopov, Ruben, 2018. "Do Elected Councils Improve Governance? Experimental Evidence on Local Institutions in Afghanistan," CEPR Discussion Papers 13053, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13053
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    3. van der Windt, Peter & Vandoros, Sotiris, 2017. "Democracy and health: Evidence from within-country heterogeneity in the Congo," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 194(C), pages 10-16.
    4. Kate Baldwin & Dean Karlan & Christopher R. Udry & Ernest Appiah, 2020. "How Political Insiders Lose Out When International Aid Underperforms: Evidence from a Participatory Development Experiment in Ghana," NBER Working Papers 26930, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. 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.
    6. 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).
    7. 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.
    8. Humphreys, Macartan & Sánchez de la Sierra, Raúl & Van der Windt, Peter, 2019. "Exporting democratic practices: Evidence from a village governance intervention in Eastern Congo," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 279-301.
    9. King, Elisabeth & Samii, Cyrus, 2014. "Fast-Track Institution Building in Conflict-Affected Countries? Insights from Recent Field Experiments," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 740-754.
    10. Abbie Turiansky, "undated". "Collective Action in Games as in Life: Experimental Evidence from Canal Cleaning in Haiti," Mathematica Policy Research Reports b4f3a3ef599b43c6a875d9380, Mathematica Policy Research.
    11. Turiansky, Abbie, 2021. "Collective action in games as in life: Experimental evidence from canal cleaning in Haiti," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C).
    12. L. Kempen, 2014. "Mansuri, Ghazala and Rao, Vijayendra: Localizing development. Does participation work?," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 112(2), pages 201-205, June.
    13. 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).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    democratization; field experiment; governance quality; Political Institutions;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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