NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Raymond P. Guiteras, Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak

NBER Working Paper No. 21434
Issued in July 2015
NBER Program(s):   DEV   POL

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.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21434

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Card, Kluve, and Weber w21431 What Works? A Meta Analysis of Recent Active Labor Market Program Evaluations
Altindag and Mocan w21438 Mobile Politicians: Opportunistic Career Moves and Moral Hazard
Dinkelman w21440 Long Run Health Repercussions of Drought Shocks: Evidence from South African Homelands
Atkin and Donaldson w21439 Who's Getting Globalized? The Size and Implications of Intra-national Trade Costs
Lafortune, Tessada, and Lewis w21435 People and Machines: A Look at the Evolving Relationship Between Capital and Skill In Manufacturing 1860-1930 Using Immigration Shocks
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us