fbpx Social Accountability and Public Goods Provision: Testing Informal Mechanisms to Improve Community Welfare in the Slums of Delhi | Harvard Kennedy School

Additional Authors:

  • Melani Cammett


April 11, 2023, Paper: "Social norms have been shown to be powerful motivators for various forms of collective action, including voting, public service delivery, and community welfare (Gerber et al., 2008; Björkman and Svensson, 2009; Panagopoulos, 2010; Lust and Rakner, 2018). Such norms can be viewed as a type of accountability mechanism: when people are held accountable for their behaviors to those whose opinions they care about, they behave more in line with those individuals’ expectations (Lerner and Tetlock, 2002). But how do such norms function in the context of ethnic and religious diversity? The literature on diversity and public goods provision argues that the greater ability of ingroup members to monitor and sanction each other allows homogeneous areas to enjoy better public services (Habyarimana et al., 2007; Miguel and Gugerty, 2005). Should we expect social accountability mechanisms to depend on the ethnic diversity of a location? In this article, we report the findings of a survey experiment assessing whether respondents are willing to participate in a collective initiative to hire a private firm to clean and maintain drains in slum settlements in Delhi, India and whether their responses depend on the ethnic composition of their residential area."