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International Interventions to Build Social Capital: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Sudan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 August 2015

University of Mannheim
New York University
Alexandra Avdeenko is Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Economics, University of Mannheim, L7 3-5, 8131 (
Michael J. Gilligan is Professor, Department of Politics, New York University, 19 West 4th St., 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012 (


Increasingly the international community attempts to improve local public infrastructure in developing countries by creating more participatory local governance and social capital. We report on a randomized field experiment conducted in 24 communities (16 treated and 8 control) in rural Sudan. We offer a clearer theoretical statement of how these programs might alter the political landscape of the recipient villages. We measure norms using lab-in-the-field techniques and we measure network density with a survey of our 475 lab subjects. We appraise the participatory character of local governance and civic participation with a survey of 576 households. The program did not affect either networks or norms, but civic participation and the participatory nature of local governance increased. Thus we attribute the increase in citizen participation not to social capital growth but to more open local governing institutions.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2015 

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