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Case Studies

Policy Brief: Do political dynasties hinder development? Evidence from Pakistan

While political dynasties are pervasive across developing countries we have limited knowledge of their impact on economic development. We probe this in a context where electoral politics is both competitive and clientelist. Leveraging novel databases on political genealogies and local…

Entrenched political dynasties and development under competitive clientelism: Evidence from Pakistan

In this paper, we estimate the impact of dynastic families on local development in Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab. Toward this purpose,we compile an original database on political genealogies, which includes information aboutthe personal and family characteristics of both elected representatives…

Policy brief: A Theory of Power Structure and Institutional Compatibility: China vs. Europe revisited

Throughout history, Rulers have always faced challenges to their rule. These challenges came either from outside aggressors, popular uprisings or Elite conspiracies. The ability of Rulers to respond to these challenges has varied a lot across countries and across time….

Policy brief: Clientelistic politics and pro poor targeting

Studies examining expenditure policies of local governments (panchayats) in India have found evidence of failure to target benefits to poor regions or households. This mis-targeting can be either in the form of diversion to local elites, or forms of political…

Policy brief: What prevents more small firms from purchasing professional business services?

The professional business services market of providers offering accounting, marketing, human resources, consulting, and legal services to other businesses is estimated to exceed US$5 trillion in annual revenue. However, few small firms in developing countries use these services. A recent…

Working paper: What prevents more small firms from using professional business services?

Why do more small firms in developing countries not use the market for professional business services like accounting, marketing, and human resource specialists? Two key reasons may be that firms lack information about the availability of these services, and that…

Business-to-business Information Sharing: Empirical Evidence from Lagos Trader Networks

Information barriers can prohibit trade. This paper empirically documents the existence of business-to-business information sharing between small firm traders in Lagos, Nigeria. Sharing information about availability of new products and styles is more common than sharing information about actual suppliers…

A theory of power structure and institutional compatibility: China vs. Europe revisited

Abstract: Historical narratives suggest that general differences exist in the power structure of society between Imperial China and Premodern Europe: the Ruler enjoyed a weaker absolute power in Europe, while in China the People were more on par with the…

Electoral importance and media consumption: quasi-experimental evidence and new data from India

Abstract: What are the determinants of news media consumption? In this paper, we investigate whether it is determined by political motives. We build a new panel dataset on Indian publications at the city level between 2002 and 2017. We exploit…

Age sets and accountability

Abstract: This document is the second of two progress reports that provide an overview of the progress made on the DFID RA4 project “Social structures, political accountability, and effective public goods provision.” Our study is interested in better understanding how…

Recruitment, effort, and retention effects of performance contracts for civil servants: Experimental evidence from Rwandan primary schools

Abstract: This paper reports on a two-tiered experiment designed to separately identify the selection and effort margins of pay-for-performance (P4P). At the recruitment stage, teacher labor markets were randomly assigned to a pay-for-percentile or fixed-wage contract. Once recruits were placed,…

Gang rule: understanding and countering criminal governance

Abstract: Gangs govern millions worldwide. Why rule, and how do they respond to states? Many argue that criminal rule provides protection when states do not, and that increasing state services could crowd gangs out. We began by interviewing leaders from…

Female Genital Cutting and the Slave Trade

Abstract: We investigate the historical origins of female genital cutting (FGC), a harmful practice widespread across Africa. We test the hypothesis -substantiated by historical sources – that FGC was connected to the Red Sea slave trade route, where women were…

Economic persistence in face of adversity: Evidence from Kyrgyz tribes through Soviet times

Abstract: We study the role of traditional institutions of tribes and clans – large groups of people sharing an identity based on common lineage – in determining long-run differences in economic trajectories at sub-national level. Using a combination of rich…

Economic persistence despite adverse policies: Evidence from Kyrgyzstan

Abstract: We study the long-run persistence of relative economic well-being in the face of highly adverse government policies using a combination of rich historical and contemporaneous data sources from Kyrgyzstan. Even after controlling for unobservable local effects, the economic well-being…

Can child marriage law change attitudes and behaviour? Experimental evidence from an information intervention in Bangladesh

The practice of child marriage is ubiquitous in developing countries, where one in three girls is married before the age of 18. Although most developing countries have a legal minimum age of marriage, in practice marriage age is determined by…

Can training improve organisational culture?

Experimental evidence from Ghana’s civil service Abstract: Organizational culture is an important driver of organizational performance, but evidence on how to improve performance-oriented organizational cultures is scarce – especially in the public sector. We partnered with Ghana’s Civil Service to…

Asset ownership and female empowerment: evidence from a natural experiment in Pakistan

Abstract: In this study, we exploit a natural experiment to investigate the size and nature of the gender asset gap in Pakistan. In 2010, there was a massive flood, which affected nearly a fifth of the country, and caused a…

Religion, Politics, and Judicial Independence: Theory and Evidence

Abstract: Most enlightenment philosophers argued that the separation between Church and State would prevent capture of resources by one state religion. We formalize and test a theory that addresses a different danger. We demonstrate that a reduction in the separation…

Financial Incentives in Multi-Layered Organisations: Sierra Leone

Empirical Evidence from the Community Health Worker Program in Sierra Leone Authors:  Erika Deserranno, Northwestern University, and Philipp Kastrau and Gianmarco León-Ciliotta, Universitat Pompeu Fabra Introduction:  Poor performance of frontline service providers (e.g., teachers, health workers, tax collectors) has generated…

Research Insight: Can child marriage law change attitudes and behaviour? (Bangladesh)

Experimental Evidence from an Information Intervention in Bangladesh. As part of an EDI case study on early marriage in Bangladesh, we conducted a randomised information intervention in 80 villages following a recent change in child marriage law in the country….

Firms, Kinship and Economic Growth in the Kyrgyz Republic

In this research, we ask whether kinship networks help promote entrepreneurship or impede its development in the Kyrgyz Republic. We conducted a survey of firm managers/entrepreneurs about the nature of their business networks, what kinds of business and non-business resources…

Research Insight: Harnessing Kinship Ties to Foster Small Business Growth in the Kyrgyz Republic

The use of kinship networks by small business owners in the Kyrgyz Republic has both positive and negative effects on their companies’ profitability and revenue growth. In order to leverage these networks, technical advice to entrepreneurs should encourage discretion in…

Women’s Promotions and Intra-Household Bargaining: Evidence from Bangladesh

This paper investigates how women’s promotions in the workplace affect bargaining in the household. I exploit the design of a promotion programme for women in 27 Bangladeshi garment factories, by comparing women who were quasi-randomly selected for the programme to…

Research Insight: Judicial Independence, Religion, and Politics: Theory and Evidence

The Judiciary, through providing protection of property rights, constraining government abuse, and enforcing contracts, plays a key role in institutional, political, and economic development. Religion, too, has largely influenced institutions, politics, and economic development. Yet not much is understood on…

Research Insight: Military and Clerics in Muslim Autocracies

This research elucidates the willingness of an autocrat to push through institutional reforms in a context where traditional authorities represented by religious clerics are averse to them and where the military control the means of repression and can potentially make…

Research Insight: Asset ownership and female empowerment: Evidence from a natural experiment in Pakistan

The literature shows that women do not have an equal share in wealth as men, even within the same household, where large inequalities exist in ownership of land and productive assets. Women’s increased control of resources has been shown to…

Research Insight: Female Genital Cutting and the Slave Trade

We test the hypothesis that the slave trade was one of the contributing factors for the spread of female genital cutting (FGC). In the Red-Sea route female slaves were sold as concubines and infibulation was used to ensure chastity. We…

Women’s land rights and village councils in Tanzania

Abstract: This paper studies the land property rights of married women using a diagnostic survey on women’s land property rights and Village Councils in rural Tanzania (VI-LART). Women own little property independently of their husbands. This puts them at particular…

Why do land rights matter?

Sylvie Lambert (Paris School of Economics), Garance Genicot (Georgetown University), and Markus Goldstein (World Bank) discuss the significance of ensuring land rights to economic activity in the agricultural sectory in the Congo Basin, how securing land rights for women is…

How organised crime governs: gangs and institutions in Medellin

Despite the prevalence of “criminal governance” in cities around the world, there is very little information available to policymakers about effective strategies to reduce the influence of urban armed groups. Santiago Tobon, (Innovations for Poverty Action and Universidad EAFIT, Columbia),…

Why does judicial independence matter?

Judicial independence from state bureaucracies is considered critical for the stability of institutions and for ensuring the rule of law. As such, judicial independence is crucially important for understanding the development process. In this video Dr Sultan Mehmood (University of…

How does institutional reform affect social norms around marriage and women’s rights?

Zaki Wahhaj (Member, Advisory Group – Family Gender Conflict), Francois Bourguignon (Paris School of Economics, Research Director EDI), and Kate Vyborny (Duke University) discuss the unintended effects of new laws on the legal age of marriage in rural Bangladesh, and…

How does the past account for the present: the case of clans in Kyrgyzstan

The design of development policies requires a precise understanding of the informal institutions regulating economic activities. A key – yet understudied – institution in many low- and middle-income countries is the clan. Catherine Guirkinger (University of Namur) discusses the economic…

The Quran and the Sword – the Strategic Game between Autocratic Power, the Military And the Clerics

This paper elucidates the willingness of an autocrat to push through institutional reforms in a context where traditional authorities represented by religious clerics are averse to them and where the military, who have their own preferences about reforms, control the…

Innovation, Voice and Hierarchy in the Public Sector: Evidence from Ghana’s Civil Service

Abstract: Research on innovation in government often focuses on ideas introduced by senior leaders or managers, but ideas from public servants themselves are an important and underexplored channel for improving performance in government bureaucracies. We provide new evidence on the…

Individualization of Property Rights And Population Pressure (Democratic Republic Of Congo)

Abstract: This paper investigates how social norms related to land conversion may evolve to accommodate greater scarcity, by taking advantage of data collected in the Equateur Province in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as historical events that introduced…

Child marriage law, gender norms and marriage customs (Bangladesh)

Abstract: The negative welfare consequences of child marriage are well established, but the phenomenon is still ubiquitous in developing countries, where one in three girls is married before the age of 18. Although most countries have a legal minimum age of marriage…

Resource transfers to local governments (West Bengal)

This EDI Working Paper arises from the research undertaken for a case study on “Discretion versus rule-based budgeting and assignment in Indian governments“. The study shows how political support of household heads respond to receipt of different private and public good…

Community Origins of Industrial Entrepreneurship in Pre-Independence India

This EDI Working Paper derives from research undertaken in the Case Study on ‘Community networks and industrial entrepreneurship in India and China’ by Dilip Mookherjee et al. The authors argue that community networks played an important role in the emergence of…

Community networks and the growth of private enterprise in China

This paper identifies and quantifies the role played by birth-county-based community networks in the growth of private enterprise in China. We develop a network-based model that generates predictions for the dynamics of firm entry, concentration, and firm size across birth counties with varying…

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