Reshaping Institutions: Evidence on Aid Impacts Using a Pre-Analysis Plan

44 Pages Posted: 9 May 2011 Last revised: 15 May 2011

See all articles by Katherine P. Casey

Katherine P. Casey

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Rachel Glennerster

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: May 2011

Abstract

Although institutions are believed to be key determinants of economic performance, there is limited evidence on how they can be successfully reformed. Evaluating the effects of specific reforms is complicated by the lack of exogenous variation in the presence of institutions; the difficulty of empirically measuring institutional performance; and the temptation to "cherry pick" a few novel treatment effect estimates from amongst the large number of indicators required to capture the complex and multi-faceted subject. We evaluate one attempt to make local institutions more egalitarian by imposing minority participation requirements in Sierra Leone and test for longer term learning-by-doing effects. In so doing, we address these three pervasive challenges by: exploiting the random assignment of a participatory local governance intervention, developing innovative real-world outcomes measures, and using a pre-analysis plan to bind our hands against data mining. The specific program under study is a "community driven development" (CDD) project, which has become a popular strategy amongst donors to improve local institutions in developing countries. We find positive short-run effects on local public goods provision and economic outcomes, but no sustained impacts on collective action, decision-making processes, or the involvement of marginalized groups (like women) in local affairs, indicating that the intervention was ineffective at durably reshaping local institutions. We further show that in the absence of a pre-analysis plan, we could have instead generated two highly divergent, equally erroneous interpretations of the impacts--one positive, one negative--of external aid on institutions.

Suggested Citation

Casey, Katherine P. and Glennerster, Rachel and Miguel, Edward, Reshaping Institutions: Evidence on Aid Impacts Using a Pre-Analysis Plan (May 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1833150

Katherine P. Casey (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Rachel Glennerster

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

E53-320
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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