Do Elected Councils Improve Governance? Experimental Evidence on Local Institutions in Afghanistan
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Institute for Political Economy and Governance; Universitat Pompeu Fabra; New Economic School
September 15, 2013
MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2013-24
Using data from a field experiment in 500 villages, we study how local institutions affect the quality of governance, as measured by aid distribution outcomes. In villages where elected councils exist and manage distributions, aid targeting improves. However, if the distribution is not clearly assigned to either the council or to customary leaders, the creation of elected councils increases embezzlement and makes decision-making less inclusive. Requiring that women manage the distribution jointly with customary leaders also increases embezzlement. Thus, while elected councils can improve governance, overlapping mandates between new and existing institutions may result in increased rent-seeking.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 47
Keywords: political institutions, field experiment, democratization, governance quality
JEL Classification: D7, O1
Date posted: January 18, 2013 ; Last revised: November 27, 2013
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