Healing the Wounds: Learning from Sierra Leone's Post-War Institutional Reforms

24 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2012 Last revised: 16 Sep 2012

See all articles by Katherine Casey

Katherine Casey

Stanford Graduate School of Business

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: September 2012

Abstract

While its recent history of civil war, chronic poverty and corrupt governance would cause many to dismiss Sierra Leone as a hopeless case, the country's economic and political performance over the last decade has defied expectations. We examine how several factors--including the legacy of war, ethnic diversity, decentralization and community-driven development (CDD)--have shaped local institutions and national political dynamics. The story that emerges is a nuanced one: war does not necessarily destroy the capacity for local collective action; ethnicity affects residential choice, but does not impede local public goods provision; while politics remain heavily ethnic, voters are willing to cross ethnic boundaries when they have better information about candidates; decentralization can work even where capacity is limited, although the results are mixed; and for all of its promise, CDD does not appear to transform local institutions nor social norms. All of these findings are somewhat "unexpected," but they are quite positive in signaling that even one of the world's poorest, most violent and ethnically diverse societies can overcome major challenges and progress towards meaningful economic and political development.

Suggested Citation

Casey, Katherine and Glennerster, Rachel and Miguel, Edward, Healing the Wounds: Learning from Sierra Leone's Post-War Institutional Reforms (September 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18368. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2143555

Katherine Casey (Contact Author)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )

655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

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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