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Engineering informal institutions: Long run impacts of alternative dispute resolution on violence and property rights in Liberia

Hartman, A; Blair, R; Blattman, C; (2021) Engineering informal institutions: Long run impacts of alternative dispute resolution on violence and property rights in Liberia. The Journal of Politics , 83 (1) 10.1086/709431. Green open access

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Abstract

Informal institutions govern property rights and disputes when formal systems are weak. Effective informal institutions should help people reach and maintain bargains, minimizing violence. Can outside organizations engineer persistent institutional change? Will this strengthen property rights and investment? We experimentally evaluate a United Nations and civil society mass education campaign to promote alternative dispute resolution practices and norms in rural Liberia, where violent land disputes are common. Prior work showed a drop in violence and unresolved disputes within one year. We return after three years to test for sustained impacts and mechanisms. Treated communities report large, persistent drops in violent disputes and a slight shift toward nonviolent norms. Treated residents also report larger farms, although overall effects on property rights and investment are mixed. Politically connected residents report more secure property rights, while those with fewer connections feel less secure. Sustained institutional engineering is feasible, but politics shapes distributional outcomes.

Type: Article
Title: Engineering informal institutions: Long run impacts of alternative dispute resolution on violence and property rights in Liberia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1086/709431
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1086/709431
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10086425
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