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Direct democracy and resource allocation : experimental evidence from Afghanistan

  • Beath, Andrew
  • Christia, Fotini
  • Enikolopov, Ruben

Direct democracy is designed to better align public resource allocation decisions with citizen preferences. Using a randomized field experiment in 250 villages across Afghanistan, this paper compares outcomes of secret-ballot referenda with those of consultation meetings, which adhere to customary decision-making practices. Elites are found to exert influence over meeting outcomes, but not over referenda outcomes, which are driven primarily by citizen preferences. Referenda are also found to improve public satisfaction, whereas elite domination of allocation processes has a negative effect. The results indicate that the use of direct democracy in public resource allocation results in more legitimate outcomes than those produced by customary processes.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6133.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6133
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  1. Romer, Thomas & Rosenthal, Howard, 1979. "Bureaucrats versus Voters: On the Political Economy of Resource Allocation by Direct Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 563-87, November.
  2. Patricia Funk & Christina Gathmann, 2011. "Does Direct Democracy Reduce the Size of Government? New Evidence from Historical Data, 1890–2000," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1252-1280, December.
  3. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
  4. Peltzman, Sam, 1984. "Constituent Interest and Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 181-210, April.
  5. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov, 2013. "Randomized Impact Evaluation of Afghanistan's National Solidarity Programme," World Bank Other Operational Studies 16637, The World Bank.
  6. Pranab Bardhan & Dilip Mookherjee, 2006. "Decentralisation and Accountability in Infrastructure Delivery in Developing Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(508), pages 101-127, 01.
  7. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov, 2011. "Winning Hearts and Minds through Development Aid: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," Working Papers w0166, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  8. Kau, James B & Rubin, Paul H, 1979. "Self-Interest, Ideology, and Logrolling in Congressional Voting," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(2), pages 365-84, October.
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