Building Trust and Cooperation in Weak States: Persuasion and Source Accountability in Liberia during the 2014-2015 Ebola Crisis
Posted: 5 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 25, 2019
How do governments in weak states persuade suspicious citizens to trust them and comply with emergency measures during crises? To answer this question, we study the effectiveness of the Liberian government’s door-to-door canvassing campaign during the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic by combining data from an original, representative survey of Monrovia conducted during the crisis with plausibly as-if random variation in where the campaign was and was not able to reach. We find that the campaign was remarkably effective at increasing adherence to safety precautions, support for contentious control policies, and general trust in government. To uncover the pathways through which the campaign proved so effective, we conducted over 100 in-depth qualitative interviews in 38 randomly sampled communities. Analysis of these interviews suggests that local intermediaries were effective because their embeddedness in communities subjected them to monitoring and sanctioning, thereby assuring their fellow residents that they were accountable and thus credible.
Keywords: Ebola Virus Disease, trust in government, Liberia, household surveys, epidemics
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