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Direct Democracy and Local Public Goods in Indonesia
Last registered on September 27, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Direct Democracy and Local Public Goods in Indonesia
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001348
Initial registration date
September 27, 2016
Last updated
September 27, 2016 11:42 AM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
MIT
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2005-09-22
End date
2006-01-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This article presents an experiment in which 49 Indonesian villages were randomly assigned to choose development projects through either representative-based meetings or direct election-based plebiscites. Plebiscites resulted in dramatically higher satisfaction among villagers, increased knowledge about the project, greater perceived benefits, and higher reported willingness to contribute. Changing the political mechanism had much smaller effects on the actual projects selected, with some evidence that plebiscites resulted in projects chosen by women being located in poorer areas. The results suggest that direct participation in political decision making can substantially increase satisfaction and legitimacy.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Olken, Benjamin. 2016. "Direct Democracy and Local Public Goods in Indonesia." AEA RCT Registry. September 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1348-1.0.
Former Citation
Olken, Benjamin. 2016. "Direct Democracy and Local Public Goods in Indonesia." AEA RCT Registry. September 27. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1348/history/10822.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2005-09-22
Intervention End Date
2006-01-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Impact of Plebiscites on Project Type, Impact of Plebiscites on Project Rank, Plebiscites and Project Location by Hamlet Poverty Rank, Plebiscites and Project Location by Hamlet Population, Plebiscites and Project Location by Hamlet Centrality, Impact of Plebiscites on Project Location, Impact of Plebiscites on Perceptions of KDP Process.



Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
This experiment sought to investigate whether Indonesia's current system of decentralized village-based decision-making suffers from elite capture, as well as the perceived legitimacy of this system. Each village was preparing to apply for infrastructure projects as part of the Indonesian Kecamatan Development Program (KDP). The experiment randomly allocated 49 Indonesian villages to choose their projects either through a standard KDP decision-making process, in which projects are selected at two representative village meetings (one meeting to select the general project, and one meeting exclusively with women representatives to select the women's project), or through direct plebiscites, in which all villagers could vote directly at an election for their most preferred projects. To mirror the meeting-based process, in plebiscite villages two simultaneous votes were held, one in which all adults in the village were eligible to vote for the general proposal and one in which all adult women in the village were eligible to vote on the women's-specific proposal.

The experiment was conducted in two phases. First, Phase I was conducted in 10 villages in East Java Province and 19 villages in North Sumatra Province. Based on qualitative reports from Phase I areas, the experimental protocol was changed slightly, and then run again in Phase II in an additional 20 villages in Southeast Sulawesi Province. The impact on elite capture was evaluated by examining whether the types of projects chosen moved closer to the preferences of village elites and whether the location of projects moved towards wealthier parts of the villages. The impact on perceived legitimacy was evaluated by examining a wide range of measures of villagers' satisfaction with, and perceived fairness of, KDP.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
In Phase I of the project, 25% of villages were allocated to the plebiscite treatment. In Phase II of the project, 45% of villages were allocated to the plebiscite treatment.
Randomization Unit
Villages
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
49 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
(number of individuals to be observed was not planned in advance)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Phase I: (North Sumatra)
Plebiscite: 5
Meetings: 14

Phase I: (East Java)
Plebiscite: 3
Meetings: 7

Phase II: (Southeast Sulawesi)
Plebiscite: 9
Meetings: 11
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Harvard University
IRB Approval Date
2005-09-22
IRB Approval Number
F12796-101
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
January 31, 2006, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
January 31, 2006, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
49 villages
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Phase I: (North Sumatra) Plebiscite: 5 Meetings: 14 Phase I: (East Java) Plebiscite: 3 Meetings: 7 Phase II: (Southeast Sulawesi) Plebiscite: 9 Meetings: 11
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Yes
Program Files
Program Files
Yes
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
This article presents an experiment in which 49 Indonesian villages were randomly assigned
to choose development projects through either representative-based meetings or direct
election-based plebiscites. Plebiscites resulted in dramatically higher satisfaction among villagers,
increased knowledge about the project, greater perceived benefits, and higher reported willingness to
contribute. Changing the political mechanism had much smaller effects on the actual projects selected, with
some evidence that plebiscites resulted in projects chosen by women being located in poorer areas. The
results suggest that direct participation in political decision making can substantially increase satisfaction
and legitimacy.
Citation
Olken, Benjamin A. 2010. "Direct Democracy and Local Public Goods: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia." American Political Science Review 104(2): 243-67.