Leadership, Community Ties and Participation of the Poor: Evidence From Kenya, Malawi and Zambia

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Fri. 08.04. 11:15



Speaker: Prisca Jöst-Brenneis, Co-Author: Ellen Lust Abstract: Research on public goods provision in Africa suggests that local leaders’ ability to mobilize the poor varies with the nature of the community. Yet there remains uncertainty about why local leaders do better in mobilizing the poor in some communities than others. In this paper, we address this question. We examine the relationship between the leaders’ influence on the poor, the social density of the local community, and leaders’ ability to mobilize the poor to contribute to educational and burial funds, or vote for an endorsed candidate. To do so, we employ a conjoint experiment and observational data from an original survey fielded in Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia. We find the poor respond more to neighbors and local leaders than to more distant leaders, and that the social density of communities moderates this relationship. Moreover, examining the mechanisms, we find that the fear of sanctions or expected rewards, and the desire to bandwagon with others in the community appear to drive mobilization. These findings extend our understanding of how leadership and social ties facilitate mobilization, particularly among the poor.