Discussion paper

DP15694 Skill versus Voice in Local Development

Where the state is weak, traditional authorities control the local provision of public goods. These leaders come from an older, less educated generation and often rule in an authoritarian and exclusionary fashion. This means the skills of community members may not be leveraged in policy making. We experimentally evaluate two solutions to this problem in Sierra Leone: one encourages delegation to higher skill individuals and a second fosters broader inclusion in decision-making. In a real-world infrastructure grants competition, a public nudge to delegate lead to better outcomes than the default of chiefly control, whereas attempts to boost participation were largely ineffective.


Casey, K, R Glennerster, E Miguel and M Voors (2021), ‘DP15694 Skill versus Voice in Local Development‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 15694. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15694