Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


Development Assistance, Institution Building, and Social Cohesion after Civil War: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Liberia

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm


Jeremy Weinstein
Assistant Professor of Political Science, Stanford University

with discussant
Steve Radelet
Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

Moderated by
Vijaya Ramachandran
Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Center for Global Development
1800 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Third Floor, Washington, DC

: Can brief, foreign-funded efforts to build local institutions have positive effects on local patterns of governance, cooperation, and wellbeing? Prior research suggests that such small-scale, externally-driven interventions are unlikely to substantially alter patterns of social interaction in a community, and that the ability of a community to act collectively is the result of a slow and necessarily indigenous process. We address this question using a randomized field experiment to evaluate the impact of a community-driven reconstruction (CDR) project carried out by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in northern Liberia. The project attempted to build democratic, community-level institutions for making and implementing decisions about local public goods. We find powerful evidence that the program was successful in increasing social cohesion, some evidence that it reinforced democratic political attitudes and increased confidence in local decision making procedures, but only weak evidence that material wellbeing was positively affected.