Can Institutions Be Reformed from within? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment with the Rajasthan Police

55 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2012

See all articles by Abhijit V. Banerjee

Abhijit V. Banerjee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Raghabendra Chattopadhyay

Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC)

Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

Daniel Keniston

Yale University - Department of Economics

Nina Singh

Inspector General of Police - Rajasthan

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2012

Abstract

Institutions in developing countries, particularly those inherited from the colonial period, are often thought to be subject to strong inertia. This study presents the results of a unique randomized trial testing whether these institutions can be reformed through incremental administrative change. The police department of the state of Rajasthan, India collaborated with researchers at US and Indian universities to design and implement four interventions to improve police performance and the public’s perception of the police in 162 police stations (covering over one-fifth of the State’s police stations and personnel): (1) placing community observers in police stations; (2) a freeze on transfers of police staff; (3) in-service training to update skills; and (4) weekly duty rotation with a guaranteed day off per week. These reforms were evaluated using data collected through two rounds of surveys including police interviews, decoy visits to police stations, and a large-scale public opinion and crime victimization survey -- the first of its kind in India. The results illustrate that two of the reform interventions, the freeze on transfers and the training, improved police effectiveness and public and crime victims’ satisfaction. The decoy visits also led to an improvement in police performance. The other reforms showed no robust effects. This may be due to constraints on local implementation: The three successful interventions did not require the sustained cooperation of the communities or the local authorities (the station heads) and they were robustly implemented throughout the project. In contrast, the two unsuccessful interventions, which required local implementation, were not systematically implemented.

Keywords: community participation, crime, India, institutional reform, police, police reform, randomized trial

JEL Classification: H11, H76, K42, O22

Suggested Citation

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Chattopadhyay, Raghabendra and Duflo, Esther and Keniston, Daniel and Singh, Nina, Can Institutions Be Reformed from within? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment with the Rajasthan Police (March 2012). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8869. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2034087

Abhijit V. Banerjee (Contact Author)

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

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-252D
Cambridge, MA 02142
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617-253-8855 (Phone)
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Raghabendra Chattopadhyay

Indian Institute of Management Calcutta (IIMC) ( email )

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Calcutta, West Bengal 700104
India
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+91 33 2467 8062 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://ssrn.com/author=289009

Esther Duflo

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

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-544
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
617-258-7013 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.povertyactionlab.org/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) ( email )

Duke University
Durham, NC 90097
United States

Daniel Keniston

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States
203-432-3620 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://keniston.commons.yale.edu

Nina Singh

Inspector General of Police - Rajasthan ( email )

Jaipur, Rajasthan
India

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