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Do Elected Councils Improve Governance? Experimental Evidence on Local Institutions in Afghanistan


Andrew Beath


World Bank

Fotini Christia


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Ruben Enikolopov


Institute for Political Economy and Governance; Universitat Pompeu Fabra; New Economic School

September 15, 2013

MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2013-24

Abstract:     
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

working papers series


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Date posted: January 18, 2013 ; Last revised: November 27, 2013

Suggested Citation

Beath, Andrew and Christia, Fotini and Enikolopov, Ruben, Do Elected Councils Improve Governance? Experimental Evidence on Local Institutions in Afghanistan (September 15, 2013). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2013-24. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2202563 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2202563

Contact Information

Andrew Beath
World Bank ( email )
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States
Fotini Christia
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )
77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States
Ruben Enikolopov (Contact Author)
Institute for Political Economy and Governance ( email )
Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain
Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )
Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, E-08005
Spain
New Economic School ( email )
47 Nakhimovsky Prospekt
Moscow, 117418
Russia
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