Experiments Workshop - Malte Lierl (Yale) and Marcus Holmlund (World Bank)
Citizens at the Council: Can First-Hand Experience with Local Governance Processes Cause Lasting Changes in Citizens’ Participation?
This meeting will be a research design discussion. The presenters will talk about a field experiment in Burkina Faso that is currently in preparation, covering one third of the municipalities in Burkina Faso. The experiment addresses two questions: (1) What is the impact of first-hand experience with municipal decision processes on citizens’ trust in local administrations and their willingness to participate? (2) How does the presence of ordinary citizens influence the dynamics and decision outcomes of municipal council meetings? In the experiment, randomly selected citizens receive a personal invitation letter from their mayor to attend a municipal council meeting. The treatment is randomized at various levels: individual citizens, municipal councilors from whose villages citizens are invited, and municipalities. Outcomes of interest are at each of these three levels: council decisions, councilor participation, and citizen attitudes/behavior. The presenters are are also planning to look at spillover effects on household members and covillagers of the invited citizens. At the workshop, the presenters would like your help in thinking through causal hypotheses regarding the effect of personal exposure to municipal decision processes on citizens’ public trust and willingness to participate, and measurement strategies for these outcomes. The expectation is that there will be heterogeneous effects: Citizens in well-functioning municipalities will become more trusting and willing to participate in municipal affairs, whereas citizens in poorly-functioning municipalities will become less trusting and willing to participate.