Building institutions at the micro-level

Note this paper and abstract has been updated. See here.

That is the title of a new paper of mine with Alex Hartman and Rob Blair. The subtitle is “Results from a field experiment in property dispute and conflict resolution”.

Here is an abstract:

How to promote local order and property rights under weak rule of law? States commonly use education campaigns to influence citizen behavior and, ultimately, change generalized prac-tices and norms (or informal institutions). But can education alone influence behavior, let alone “institutions”?

In Liberia, property disputes are endemic, but access to formal legal institutions is scant. An intervention trained 15% of residents of 85 towns in mediation, and advocated informal resolution practices and forums. We compare them to randomized control towns a year later.

We see little short-term impact on dispute levels or ferocity, but observe higher land dispute res-olution and satisfaction. Spillovers within towns indicate generalized change—perhaps an early indication of institutionalization.

Qualitative work suggests the intervention imparted superior mediation skills, enhanced the legitimacy of informal practices, and deterred defection to com-peting forums. We argue education shifts practices and norms and can help citizens coordinate on procedures and institutions.

Full paper here.

31 thoughts on “Building institutions at the micro-level

  1. So you are stepping straight into the Schleifer-Acemoglu battle? I look forward to read the paper!