Abstract

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How to Promote Order and Property Rights Under Weak Rule of Law? An Experiment in Changing Dispute Resolution Behavior Through Community Education


Christopher Blattman


Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alexandra Hartman


Yale University

Robert A. Blair


Brown University

May 30, 2013

Forthcoming in American Political Science Review

Abstract:     
Dispute resolution institutions help reach agreements and preserve the peace whenever property rights are imperfect. In weak states, strengthening formal institutions can take decades, and so state and aid interventions also try to shape informal practices and norms governing disputes. Their goal is to improve bargaining and commitment, thus limiting disputes and violence. Mass education campaigns that promote alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are common examples. We study short-term impacts of one such campaign in Liberia, where property disputes are endemic. From 246 towns, 86 randomly received training in ADR practices and norms, training 15% of adults. One year later, treated towns have higher resolution of land disputes and lower violence. Impacts spill over to untrained residents. We also see unintended consequences: more extrajudicial punishment and (weakly) more non-violent disagreements. Results imply mass education can change high-stakes behaviors, and improving informal bargaining and en-forcement behavior can promote order in weak states.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 57

Keywords: conflict, conflict resolution, property rights, state building, peace building, development, institutions, experiments

JEL Classification: D74, P14, C93, O43


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Date posted: May 22, 2013 ; Last revised: November 14, 2013

Suggested Citation

Blattman, Christopher and Hartman, Alexandra and Blair, Robert A., How to Promote Order and Property Rights Under Weak Rule of Law? An Experiment in Changing Dispute Resolution Behavior Through Community Education (May 30, 2013). Forthcoming in American Political Science Review. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2268045 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2268045

Contact Information

Christopher Blattman (Contact Author)
Columbia University - School of International & Public Affairs (SIPA) ( email )
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Alexandra Hartman
Yale University ( email )
New Haven, CT 06520
United States
Robert A. Blair
Brown University ( email )
Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States
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