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Skill versus Voice in Local Development

Katherine Casey, Rachel Glennerster, Edward Miguel and Maarten Voors
Additional contact information
Katherine Casey: Stanford Graduate School of Business and NBER
Rachel Glennerster: Department for International Development
Maarten Voors: Wageningen U

Research Papers from Stanford University, Graduate School of Business

Abstract: Where the state is weak, traditional authorities often control the local provision of land, justice, and public goods. These authorities are criticized for ruling in an undemocratic and unaccountable fashion, and are typically quite old and poorly educated relative to younger cohorts who have benefited from recent schooling expansions. We experimentally evaluate two solutions to these problems in rural Sierra Leone: an expensive long-term intervention to make local institutions more inclusive; and a low-cost test to rapidly identify skilled technocrats and delegate project management to them. In a real-world competition for local infrastructure grants, we find that in the status quo and institutional reform arms, traditional authorities do not delegate to skilled individuals despite the clear benefits of doing so. A public nudge successfully encourages delegation, leading to an average gain of one standard deviation unit in competition outcomes. The results uncover a broader failure of traditional autocratic institutions to fully exploit the human capital present in their communities. We compare these findings to the prior beliefs of experts on likely impacts, and discuss implications for competing views on the sustainability of foreign aid.

JEL-codes: H41 I25 O15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr and nep-ppm
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Related works:
Journal Article: Skill Versus Voice in Local Development (2023) Downloads
Working Paper: Skill Versus Voice in Local Development (2023) Downloads
Working Paper: Skill versus Voice in Local Development (2021) Downloads
Working Paper: Skill Versus Voice in Local Development (2018) Downloads
Working Paper: Skill versus Voice in Local Development (2018) Downloads
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