Assistant Professor Anand Murugesan and Visiting Professor Tiziana Centofanti publish new paper

August 11, 2022

A key stated objective of decentralised governance and participatory decision-making is improving access to public goods and services, which includes the environment of the poor and marginalised. In a recently published article in the Journal of Experimental and Behavioural Economics, Assistant Professor Anand Murugesan and Visiting Professor Tiziana Centofanti examine two aspects of decentralised governance: role of locally elected leaders' endorsement and citizen participation on their voluntary contributions to improve their environment. The authors conducted lab-in-the-field experiments (LFE) in five villages in Hungary, Ukraine, and Slovakia to test the causal relationships between leader endorsement, participation and voluntary contributions. By taking the lab to the field, the authors were able to rope in representative populations as subjects. The authors strengthened the external validity of the experimental findings by involving real elected mayors and tying in the subject contributions to restoring real public goods, such as public parks and water wells. The authors find that citizen participation in the choice of the environmental public goods significantly increased contributions, while the leader’s endorsement did not affect contributions. This suggests that while the leader’s effect is unclear, participatory decision-making can improve access to public goods and increase the beneficiaries’ willingness to cost-share in rural communities.