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Information, Institutions, and Governance

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Leonard Wantchekon
POLICY SEMINAR
Information, Governance, and Rural Service Delivery
Co-Organized by IFPRI and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM)

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Information, Institutions, and Governance

  1. 1. Information, Institutions, and Governance Léonard Wantchékon Princeton University African School of Economics October 21, 2019 1
  2. 2. An Observation The experimental literature on governance has focused on two main approaches: 1. Better information, and 2. Encouraging participatory or community-driven development However, there is no consistent evidence that these approaches improve outcomes we care about 2
  3. 3. Outline I. As social scientists, what is our current approach to improving political decision-making and governance? II. Why isn’t this approach working? III. What should we do instead? 3
  4. 4. Key Concepts • Governance – Service delivery, security, infrastructure, etc. • Constructive social capital – Social capital -> Connections among individuals and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them (Putnam, 2000) – Constructive -> Beneficial to the whole community 4
  5. 5. Providing Information: Theory • Information is power • Information is key to democratic governance – Better informed voters will vote more often and base their choices on important issues • Information will lead to better service delivery and less corruptions – “Sunlight is the best disinfectant” – Justice Brandeis I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 5
  6. 6. Engaging Citizens: Theory • More engaged citizens should lead to improvements in governance – Participatory democracy – Decentralization – Community-driven development • The World Bank has spent nearly $28 billion on CDD over the last decade1 I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 1. http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/communitydrivendevelopment 6
  7. 7. Providing Information: Results Table 1: Selected Information Campaign Evaluations I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? Study Outcome(s) Results Banerjee, Banerjee, Duflo, Glennerster, & Khemani (2010) Learning ✗ Chong, De La, Karlan, & Wantchekon (2015) Corruption, Voter participation ? Ferrez & Finan (2007) Corruption ✓ Lieberman, Posner, & Tsai (2014) Private action, Collective action ✗ Peisakhin & Pinto (2010) Access to public services ✓ Reinikka & Svensson (2005) Enrollment, learning ✓ Ravallion, van de Walle, Dutta, & Murgau (2013) Employment ✗ 7
  8. 8. Engaging Citizens: Results Table 1: Selected Participatory Governance Evaluations I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? Study Intervention Outcome(s) Results Casey, Glennerster, & Miguel (2011) Block grants for communities in Sierra Leona that promote democratic-decision making and inclusion Material well-being, Institutions, Power dynamics ? Chaudhury & Parajuli (2010) Transferred local school mgmt to the communities in Nepal School access, Learning ? Duflo, Dupas, & Kremer (2008) Community monitoring of teachers in Kenya Teacher attendance, Student performance ✓ Humphreys, de la Sierra, & van de Walle (2012) Organized elected village committees in the DRC that chose development projects Governance, Gender inclusion, economic impacts ✗ Olken (2008) Community participation in the monitoring of road projects in Indonesia Corruption ✗ 8
  9. 9. Key Takeaway • The empirical evidence on information campaigns and participatory governance strategies is mixed – Why don’t these approaches consistently have the hypothesized outcomes? I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 9
  10. 10. Providing Information: Why it doesn’t always work • Limits to the exogeneity assumption – When people engage with new information they automatically use different frames, methods of acquisition, and beliefs on the credibility of the source – Information also has spillovers • As a result, the information given is rarely the information acted upon I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 10
  11. 11. Engaging Citizens: Why it doesn’t always work • Design issues – They implicitly assume all forms of participation are equal and that all participatory institutions are automatically good • But the“rules of the game” matter – For example, the possible rules for a town hall include • Deliberation or no deliberation? • With or without voting? • Who sets the agenda? • What is the agenda? I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 11
  12. 12. A different approach? • Typically, we “jump” straight from information to governance • However, before governance, information is “processed” in organizations/social networks, under specific rules. • Information -> Social capital -> Governance I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 12
  13. 13. A different approach? • Instead of only focusing on information or some “vaguely” defined notion of participation, we should focus more on how (together) these concepts shape social capital and institutions. – Estimating intrinsic causal effects of institutions – Separate out the effect of information from that of institutions I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 13
  14. 14. Evaluating Institutions: the Problem • Instead of randomly assigning a treatment (e.g. information), assign decision-making process. • By deliberation? • Institution is assigned to groups of individuals, who collectively and endogenously generate the treatment. • The question: How to best identify and separate out the effect of the institution from the effect of the policy (information)?
  15. 15. Example 1: Democracy Experiment in Indonesia (Olken 2010) • 49 villages randomly-assigned to choose development projects via 1. Representative-based meetings, or 2. Direct election-based plebiscites • Findings – Direct participation in decision-making increased satisfaction and legitimacy compared to representative-based meetings ✓ much higher satisfaction ✓ increased knowledge about project ✓ greater perceived benefits ✓ higher reported willingness to contribute – Unclear the difference between total effect and the "democracy effect.” – Ignore selection effect in the treatment group. – Policy outcomes not always the same in treatment and control groups. I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 15
  16. 16. Example 2 Clientelism and Policy Deliberation (Wantchekon et al, 2014, 2016) 16
  17. 17. The Institutional Intervention • Tested a voter engagement intervention in Benin and the Philippines: Party-endorsed town hall meetings where people deliberate over platforms proposed by candidates • Deliberation might outperform rallies because – Of its effect on attendees: • Voter coordination: Learn about other voters’ preferences and beliefs • Platform transparency: Better understand a candidate’s platform • Platform customization: adapt platform to local conditions – Deliberative campaigns may affect those who do not attend: • Information sharing: Learn about the candidate’s platform from others in a social network I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 17
  18. 18. Experimental Design Treatment Villages: Town hall meeting • Meetings followed standard format: – Introduction to candidate’s platform – Deliberation about platform, participants invited to propose amendments – Summary of meeting and commitment to transmit feedback to party leadership Comparison Villages Business-as-usual – Festive political rallies, sometimes with gift distribution – Speech by candidate or representative about policy agenda – One-way communication – Mobile propaganda teams – Posters in public spaces I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 18
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  20. 20. Effects on Voter Behavior, Vote Share & Clientelist Practices • Town hall meetings increased turnout by 3.3% in Benin and had no impact on turnout in Philippines • Increased electoral support for some candidates or parties that engaged in deliberation: – Benin: 8.6% increase in vote share for opposition; no increase in incumbent vote share – Philippines: Vote share for treatment parties increased 50% • Deliberative campaign reduced index of clientelism 0.23 standard deviations in Benin. I. What we are doing now? II. Why isn’t it working? III. What should we do? 20
  21. 21. What’s next? • Bureaucracies in Benin – Providing audit reports during closed town hall meetings twice a year • No mayor present, only chief of staff • Can talk freely without fear of retribution • How is information processed in this setting? • Does it affect bureaucratic cohesion and motivation? 21
  22. 22. Conclusion • Information, generating constructive social capital can improve governance through horizontal accountability and cooperation among individuals. 22
  23. 23. Credits for Illustrations All illustrations came from The Noun Project 1. Illustrations of people, Gan Khoon Lay 2. Newspaper, unlimicon 3. Radio, AFY Studio 4. Brochure, Xinh Studio 23

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