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Building institutions at the micro-level: Results from a field experiment in property dispute and conflict resolution

Author

Listed:
  • Christopher Blattman

    () (Columbia University, Department of Politics & SIPA)

  • Alexandra Hartman

    () (Yale University, Department of Political Science)

  • Robert Blair

    () (Yale University, Department of Political Science)

Abstract

How to promote local order and property rights under weak rule of law? States commonly use education campaigns to influence citizen behavior and, ultimately, change generalized practices and norms (or informal institutions). But can education alone influence behavior, let alone “institutions”? In Liberia, property disputes are endemic, but access to formal legal institutions is scant. An intervention trained residents of 68 towns in mediation and advocated informal resolution practices and forums. We compare them to 179 randomized control towns a year later. We see little short-term impact on dispute levels or ferocity, but observe dramatically higher land dispute resolution and satisfaction. Spillovers within towns indicate generalized change - perhaps an early indication of institutionalization. Qualitative work suggests the intervention imparted superior mediation skills, enhanced the legitimacy of informal practices, and deterred defection to competing forums. We argue education can shift practices and norms by helping citizens coordinate on procedures and institutions.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Blattman & Alexandra Hartman & Robert Blair, 2012. "Building institutions at the micro-level: Results from a field experiment in property dispute and conflict resolution," HiCN Working Papers 128, Households in Conflict Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:128
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paul Collier & Pedro C. Vicente, 2014. "Votes and Violence: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Nigeria," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(574), pages 327-355, February.
    2. Fearon, James D., 1995. "Rationalist explanations for war," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(03), pages 379-414, June.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:103:y:2009:i:04:p:622-644_99 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bardhan, Pranab, 1993. "Analytics of the institutions of informal cooperation in rural development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 633-639, April.
    5. Markus Goldstein & Christopher Udry, 2008. "The Profits of Power: Land Rights and Agricultural Investment in Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(6), pages 981-1022, December.
    6. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
    7. Finnemore, Martha & Sikkink, Kathryn, 1998. "International Norm Dynamics and Political Change," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 887-917, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Berry, Christopher & Barnett, Edward & Hinton, Rachel, 2015. "What does learning for all mean for DFID's global education work?," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 323-329.

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