38 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2011 Last revised: 1 Oct 2016
Date Written: September 30, 2016
Direct democracy is designed to better align policy outcomes with citizen preferences. To test this proposition, we randomized whether 250 villages across Afghanistan selected projects by secret-ballot referenda or by consultation meetings. We find that referenda reduce the influence of local elites over both project type and location. Consistent with previous experimental results, we also find that referenda improve villagers’ perceptions of the local economy and of the quality of local governance. However, we find no systematic evidence that selecting projects via referenda increases the average impact of such projects.
Keywords: political institutions, field experiment, electoral system, direct democracy
JEL Classification: D7, O1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Beath, Andrew and Christia, Fotini and Enikolopov, Ruben, Direct Democracy and Resource Allocation: Experimental Evidence from Afghanistan (September 30, 2016). MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2011-6. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1935055 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1935055