Does Development Aid Undermine Political Accountability? Leader and Constituent Responses to a Large-Scale Intervention

52 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2015

See all articles by Raymond P. Guiteras

Raymond P. Guiteras

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

Yale School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: July 2015

Abstract

Comprehensive evaluation requires tracking indirect effects of interventions, such as politicians and constituents reacting to the arrival of a development program. We study political economy responses to a large scale intervention in Bangladesh, where 346 communities consisting of 16,600 households were randomly assigned to control, information or subsidy treatments to encourage investments in improved sanitation. In one intervention where the leaders’ role in program allocation was not clear to constituents, leaders react by spending more time in treatment areas, and treated constituents appear to attribute credit to their local leader for a randomly assigned program. In contrast, in another lottery where subsidy assignment is clearly and transparently random, the lottery winners do not attribute any extra credit to the politician relative to lottery losers. These reactions are consistent with a model in which constituents have imperfect information about leader ability. A third intervention returns to a random subset of treated households to inform them that the program was externally funded and randomly assigned. This simple, scalable information treatment eliminates the excess credit that leaders received in villages that received subsidies. These results suggest that while politicians may respond to try to take credit for development programs, it is not easy for them do so. Political accountability is not easily undermined by development aid.

Suggested Citation

Guiteras, Raymond P. and Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq, Does Development Aid Undermine Political Accountability? Leader and Constituent Responses to a Large-Scale Intervention (July 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21434. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2641650

Raymond P. Guiteras (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-5787 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://mba.yale.edu/faculty/profiles/mobarak.shtml

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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