GLD Working Papers

Legacy Institutions and Political Order in Weak States: Evidence from Chad

Paul Thissen


This paper investigates variation in the ability of non-state institutions to produce political order in weak states. In countries with weak central governments, non-state institutions, such as chieftaincies, are often seen performing many of the functions of a state: enforcing legal codes, collecting taxes, guaranteeing property rights, and ensuring security. However, while some chieftaincies demonstrate an impressive command over their followers, in other places, residents feel free to disobey their chief’s edicts. To account for such variation, this paper draws on immersive fieldwork in Chad to present a theory of institutional time-dependent reputation and how it affects individuals’ compliance decisions. I explain how centuries-old institutions can command greater compliance than newer institutions, because people grow up knowing the institution’s reputation, believing they will be punished if they disobey its leader. In contrast, people are still formulating their beliefs about newer institutions, because they are unsure whether newer institutions are capable of following through with consequences. I corroborate this theoretical argument with new evidence from in-depth interviews with chiefs and a survey of 2,300 Chadian villagers across peripheral regions of Chad. I find that residents have higher expectations of compliance in areas where there are older institutions with established reputations, a finding that is robust to a variety of analytical approaches and statistical models.


Everyday Corruption and Social Norms in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan

Rustamjon Urinboyev


This paper aims to contribute to the scholarly debates and efforts to understand and diagnose corruption and its societal implications. It probes the ways in which certain informal, nonlegal practices and transactions are driven not always by kleptocracy, individual greed, or survival strategies; they may also reflect people’s desire to fulfill their family and kinship obligations, socialize and maintain membership in their networks and community, avoid gossip and social sanctions, gain or preserve social status and reputation, or obtain more moral and affective support from those around them.


Moving from race- to performance-based politics: Swing voters in South Africa’s 2016 local elections

Adam S. Harris


Who are the swing voters in South Africa’s racially-charged elections? This study is among the first to systematically investigate the correlates of the swing vote in South Africa. I argue that race, cohort, performance, and partisan networks influence the likelihood that an individual is a swing voter. To investigate these arguments, this study uses original exit poll survey data from South Africa’s 2016 local elections. The results indicate that swing voters in the 2016 elections are those who have weaker racial identities, weaker attachments to their racial group’s party, are born free, have lower assessments of ANC performance, and have fewer friends and family who support their preferred party. The paper also predicts what drives swing voters to support a certain party. The results have key implications for race and identity-based voting in South Africa and dominant regimes across the continent.


To Punish or to Pardon?

Kristen Kao and Mara Redlich Revkin


Rebel groups that govern territory require the support of large numbers of civilians. After conflict ends, these civilians are often perceived as rebel collaborators. Yet, we know relatively little about what victimized populations think is the appropriate response to collaborators. This gap in our knowledge has serious implications for the durability of peace. Through experiments embedded in an original survey of Mosul, an Iraqi city that experienced governance by the Islamic State, we identify the effects of hypothetical collaborators' (1) identity traits and (2) type of collaboration on preferences for punishment, forgiveness, and reintegration. Contrary to the government's harsh and indiscriminate approach to prosecuting collaborators, participants prefer more lenient punishments—or no punishment—for some. We find that the nature of collaboration matters more than the identity of the collaborator. Our design helps identify the conditions under which former rebel collaborators may be successfully reintegrated into post-conflict societies.


Donor Endorsements Help or Hurt?

Lindsay J. Benstead, Ragnhild L. Muriaas, and Vibeke Wang


Development organizations seek to improve support for gender reforms, especially among populations who might undermine implementation. Yet, little is known about how policy advocates shape citizens’ views. Using a framing experiment implemented among 1,704 Malawians embedded in the LGPI, we randomly assigned respondents to six groups to receive a control or endorsement of gender quotas or land reform from women’s organizations (WOs) or western donors (WDs). We propose an interest theory of public opinion formation and find that, overall, WOs or WDs are as effective as the control for quotas, but cause backfire effect for land reforms—highly sensitive issues threatening men’s interests. Effects vary most across respondent gender, with messengers generally causing backfire effects among men, but having either no impact or a positive impact among women. Our results extend the governance literature by disaggregating gender issues and questioning whether endorsement-based campaigns improve support among populations with entrenched interests.