Democratization by Accident: Does Development Aid Change Local Hierarchies?
AEA Randomized Controlled Trials
Governments of low-income countries often rely on development agencies to implement programs aiming at improving health, education and economic outcomes. Apart from these intended effects, development programs can have powerful unintended side-effects. In this study, we explore one such side-effect: democratization. Specifically, we assess whether a standard development intervention unintentionally changes local hierarchies to become more democratic. We propose two primary channels how
... nt interventions affect social hierarchies. First, new political roles and committees challenge existing elites. Second, economic specialization brings people closer together and results in new interest groups. Both channels should, in theory, lead to more democratic locallevel decision-making. We assess these hypotheses in post-conflict Liberia using a cluster-randomized controlled trial. This pre-analysis plan lays out our empirical strategy to assess the program's effect on local democratization. 1 To explore the interplay of development and democratization, we cooperated with KfW Development Bank and the NGO WHH to evaluate their Reintegration and Recovery Program in South East Liberia (henceforth, RRP). RRP is a KfW-funded 16 million Euro program intended to foster sustainable socio-economic development and food and nutrition security in Liberia's South East. The program includes three key components, to which communities are randomly assigned: i) gender empowerment; ii) water, sanitation and hygiene; and iii) agricultural innovation. The specific program components are described below. Gender empowerment (RRP-Gender) The first arm of the program implements a gender empowerment program. The program is implemented by Medica Liberia in 15 villages. The goal of the program is to address sexualized & gender based violence through prevention and advocacy. To this end, Medica will set up institutionalized women support groups in beneficiary villages. The groups support women in employment related issues and provide a support network in case women are subjected to violence. Water, sanitation and hygiene (RRP-WASH) The second arm of the program implements a behavior change program. The program is implemented by WHH in 112 villages. The purpose of the program is to change respondents' behavior toward water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Specific behaviors that are addressed in the program include nutrition during pregnancy, food handling, handwashing practices, cleanliness (to avoid rodents). Apart from behavioral change campaigns, this program arm also includes the rehabilitation of water pumps and the assignment of maintenance responsibilities to community members. 3