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Participatory accountability and collective action : evidence from field experiments in Albanian schools

  • Barr, Abigail
  • Packard, Truman
  • Serra, Danila

There is general agreement that the existence of participatory institutions is a necessary condition for accountability, especially where top-down institutions are malfunctioning or missing. In education, the evidence on the effectiveness of participatory accountability is mixed. This paper argues that participation is a social dilemma and therefore depends, at least partly, on individuals'propensity to cooperate with others for the common good. This being the case, the mixed evidence could be owing to society-level heterogeneities in individuals'willingness and ability to overcome collective action problems. The authors investigate whether individuals'propensity to cooperate plays a role in parents'decisions to participate in both a school accountability system -- a"short route"to accountability -- and parliamentary elections -- a"long route"to accountability -- by combining survey data on 1,800 individuals'participation decisions with measures of their willingness to contribute to a public good in the context of a very simple, clearly defined laboratory experiment. They conduct a study in a new democracy, Albania, involving parents of children enrolled in primary schools. The findings confirm that, both across individuals within communities and across communities, the decision to hold teachers and school directors accountable directly through participation at the school level, and indirectly through political participation correlates with cooperativeness in a simple public goods game.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6027.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6027
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