Thad Dunning, Professor

Closed (1) Relationships of Local Development: Traditional authorities and state leaders in rural Latin America

Closed. This professor is continuing with Fall 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Spring 2018.

In Latin America, the most common traditional institutions are long-standing forms of communal landholding, which were not created by the state but which are, for the most part, now recognized by it. These traditional institutions serve important functions of local governance. Leaders of these institutions extract unremunerated labor from community members to produce public goods (Olken and Singhal 2011; Díaz-Cayeros et al. 2014); regulate the cultivation of jointly held land and the distribution of the revenue derived from it; and mete out punishment to those who do not comply with the communities’ rules and customs, which structure political, social, and economic life. Their ability to organize these actions makes them valuable to local governments not only as brokers (see de Kadt and Larreguy 2014, p. 10), but also as potential partners in the collection of revenue and production of public goods (Baldwin 2013). Through a series of experiments with traditional leaders and mayors in Peru and Mexico, this project examines the roots of these cooperative arrangements that have especially important implications for intra-district inequality in rural Latin America. Why do cooperative arrangements emerge between municipal governments and leaders of traditional institutions? What are the incentives of traditional authorities to develop ties with mayors? And what are the incentives of mayors to develop ties with these traditional authorities?

Students will primarily create datasets and transcribe interviews. Other tasks may also be available depending on each student's interest and experience.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Chris Carter, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Some experience with excel, Spanish at the intermediate level

Weekly Hours: 3-6 hrs

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