Although institutions are believed to be key determinants of economic performance, there is limited evidence on how they can be successfully reformed. The most popular strategy to improve local institutions in developing countries is “community driven development” (CDD). This paper estimates the impact of a CDD program in post-war Sierra Leone using a randomized experiment and novel outcome measures. We find positive short-run effects on local public goods provision, but no sustained impacts on fund-raising, decision-making processes, or the involvement of marginalized groups (like women) in local affairs, indicating that CDD was ineffective at durably reshaping local institutions.
Ted Miguel is a professor of economics at UC Berkeley. His main research focus is African economic development, including work on the economic causes and consequences of violence; the impact of ethnic divisions on local collective action; and interactions between health, education, and productivity for the poor. He has conducted field work in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and India. Ted is a Faculty Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Associate Editor of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Journal of Development Economics and Review of Economics and Statistics, recipient of the 2005 Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and winner of the 2005 Kenneth J. Arrow Prize awarded annually by the International Health Economics Association for the Best Paper in Health Economics.