Private Provision of a Public Good: Social Capital and Solid Waste Management in Dhaka, Bangladesh
36 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: August 2000
Some neighborhoods in Dhaka have successfully organized an alternative to municipal trash collection and some have not. What determines whether a neighborhood or community is likely to undertake collective action?
Pargal, Gilligan, and Huq try to identify the determinants of private, community-based provision of a public good-in this case, trash collection. Using survey data for Dhaka, Bangladesh, where some neighborhoods have successfully organized an alternative to the municipal trash collection service, they examine why some communities or neighborhoods display such initiative while others do not.
Their results show that social capital-trust, reciprocity, and sharing - is an important determinant of whether alternative systems arise in Dhaka. More generally, public-private partnerships or self-help schemes appear more likely to succeed in neighborhoods high in social capital.
Other measures of homogeneity of interests are also important. So, interestingly, is the nature of associational activity.
Finally, education levels are strongly and robustly associated with the existence of collective action for trash disposal.
How can policymakers encourage such activity? The process through which community residents start cooperating for the common good is a function of the strength of their relationships. Government attempts to initiate the process are therefore unlikely to boost social capital directly, but by lowering information and transaction costs they may facilitate a virtuous cycle of successful cooperation and strengthening social ties.
This paper - a product of the Private Sector Cluster, Latin America and the Caribbean Region - is part of a larger effort in the region to examine the determinants of private provision of public goods. Daniel Gilligan may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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