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Democratic Institutions and Collective Action Capacity: Results from a Field Experiment in Post-Conflict Liberia

47 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 11 Mar 2014

James D. Fearon

Stanford University

Macartan Humphreys

Columbia University

Jeremy M. Weinstein

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Center for Global Development

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

We describe results from a field experiment on the e ffects of local democratic governance institutions that were introduced in 42 of 83 randomly selected communities in northern Liberia in 2006-8. The intervention sought to strengthen the ability of communities to solve collective action problems. Five months after the intervention was completed we used a community-wide public good game as a behavioral measure of collective action capacity. Surprisingly -- given the common view that local social and political institutions are highly robust and resistant to third-party e fforts to change them -- we fi nd that treated communities contributed signi ficantly more in the public goods game. We use evidence from surveys of the game players to try to understand the mechanisms by which the program aff ected contributions. Although our conclusions here are more tentative, it appears that leaders in CDR-treated communities engaged in greater mobilization and information-sharing eff orts which may have produced more coordination around socially desirable outcomes. These eff ects are found however only when the collective action problem is presented to mixed gender groups; for collective action problems involving women-only groups we observe no mobilization gains attributable to the treatment.

Suggested Citation

Fearon, James D. and Humphreys, Macartan and Weinstein, Jeremy M., Democratic Institutions and Collective Action Capacity: Results from a Field Experiment in Post-Conflict Liberia (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1902218

James D. Fearon (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Macartan Humphreys

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Jeremy M. Weinstein

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Center for Global Development

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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