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Can Institutions Be Reformed from Within? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment with the Rajasthan Police

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  • Banerjee, Abhijit
  • Chattopadhyay, Raghabendra
  • Duflo, Esther
  • Keniston, Daniel
  • Singh, Nina

Abstract

Institutions in developing countries, particularly those inherited from the colonial period, are often thought to be subject to strong inertia. This study presents the results of a unique randomized trial testing whether these institutions can be reformed through incremental administrative change. The police department of the state of Rajasthan, India collaborated with researchers at US and Indian universities to design and implement four interventions to improve police performance and the public’s perception of the police in 162 police stations (covering over one-fifth of the State’s police stations and personnel): (1) placing community observers in police stations; (2) a freeze on transfers of police staff; (3) in-service training to update skills; and (4) weekly duty rotation with a guaranteed day off per week. These reforms were evaluated using data collected through two rounds of surveys including police interviews, decoy visits to police stations, and a large-scale public opinion and crime victimization survey--the first of its kind in India. The results illustrate that two of the reform interventions, the freeze on transfers and the training, improved police effectiveness and public and crime victims’ satisfaction. The decoy visits also led to an improvement in police performance. The other reforms showed no robust effects. This may be due to constraints on local implementation: The three successful interventions did not require the sustained cooperation of the communities or the local authorities (the station heads) and they were robustly implemented throughout the project. In contrast, the two unsuccessful interventions, which required local implementation, were not systematically implemented.

Suggested Citation

  • Banerjee, Abhijit & Chattopadhyay, Raghabendra & Duflo, Esther & Keniston, Daniel & Singh, Nina, 2012. "Can Institutions Be Reformed from Within? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment with the Rajasthan Police," CEPR Discussion Papers 8869, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8869
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarah Baird & Aislinn Bohren & Berk Ozler & Craig McIntosh, 2014. "Designing Experiments to Measure Spillover Effects," Working Papers 2014-11, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    2. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:5:p:1-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Pritchett, Lant & Samji, Salimah & Hammer, Jeffrey S., 2012. "It's All about MeE: Using Structured Experiential Learning ('e') to Crawl the Design Space," WIDER Working Paper Series 104, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Alexander Libman, 2012. "Learning to Be Different: Quantitative Research in Economics and Political Science," Rationality, Markets and Morals, Frankfurt School Verlag, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, vol. 3(62), December.
    5. repec:bla:jregsc:v:57:y:2017:i:2:p:319-341 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Valsecchi, Michele, 2016. "Corrupt Bureaucrats: The Response of Non-Elected Officials to Electoral Accountability," Working Papers in Economics 684, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    7. Asim,Salman & Chase,Robert S. & Dar,Amit & Schmillen,Achim Daniel, 2015. "Improving education outcomes in South Asia : findings from a decade of impact evaluations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7362, The World Bank.
    8. Niño-Zarazúa, Miguel & Gisselquist, Rachel M., 2013. "What Can Experiments Tell Us About How to Improve Governance?," WIDER Working Paper Series 077, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Giovanna d'Adda & Guido Blasio, 2017. "Historical Legacy And Policy Effectiveness: The Long-Term Influence Of Preunification Borders In Italy," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 319-341, March.
    10. Juan Felipe García & Daniel Mejia & Daniel Ortega, 2013. "Police Reform, Training and Crime: Experimental evidence from Colombia´s Plan Cuadrantes," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010497, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    11. Lindsey Carson & Mariana Mota Prado, 2014. "Mapping Corruption and its Institutional Determinants in Brazil," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series iriba_wp08, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    12. Lant Pritchett & Salimah Samji & Jeffrey Hammer, 2013. "It‘s All About MeE: Using Structured Experiential Learning (“e”) to Crawl the Design Space," Working Papers 322, Center for Global Development.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    community participation; crime; India; institutional reform; police; police reform; randomized trial;

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H76 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Other Expenditure Categories
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O22 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Project Analysis

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