How to Promote Order and Property Rights Under Weak Rule of Law? An Experiment in Changing Dispute Resolution Behavior Through Community Education

Forthcoming in American Political Science Review

57 Pages Posted: 22 May 2013 Last revised: 14 Nov 2013

Christopher Blattman

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alexandra Hartman

University College of London

Robert A. Blair

Brown University

Date Written: May 30, 2013

Abstract

Dispute resolution institutions help reach agreements and preserve the peace whenever property rights are imperfect. In weak states, strengthening formal institutions can take decades, and so state and aid interventions also try to shape informal practices and norms governing disputes. Their goal is to improve bargaining and commitment, thus limiting disputes and violence. Mass education campaigns that promote alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are common examples. We study short-term impacts of one such campaign in Liberia, where property disputes are endemic. From 246 towns, 86 randomly received training in ADR practices and norms, training 15% of adults. One year later, treated towns have higher resolution of land disputes and lower violence. Impacts spill over to untrained residents. We also see unintended consequences: more extrajudicial punishment and (weakly) more non-violent disagreements. Results imply mass education can change high-stakes behaviors, and improving informal bargaining and en-forcement behavior can promote order in weak states.

Keywords: conflict, conflict resolution, property rights, state building, peace building, development, institutions, experiments

JEL Classification: D74, P14, C93, O43

Suggested Citation

Blattman, Christopher and Hartman, Alexandra and Blair, Robert A., How to Promote Order and Property Rights Under Weak Rule of Law? An Experiment in Changing Dispute Resolution Behavior Through Community Education (May 30, 2013). Forthcoming in American Political Science Review. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2268045 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2268045

Christopher Blattman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alexandra Hartman

University College of London ( email )

29-30 Tavistock Sq
School of Public Policy
London, WC1H 9QU
United Kingdom

Robert A. Blair

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
173
Rank
141,648
Abstract Views
1,638