Democratization by Accident: Does Development Aid Change Local Hierarchies?

Last registered on February 16, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

Democratization by Accident: Does Development Aid Change Local Hierarchies?
Initial registration date
March 03, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
March 04, 2020, 11:59 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
February 16, 2021, 4:09 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator

University of Bergen

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Humboldt University

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Governments of low-income countries often rely on development agencies to implement programs aiming at improving health, education and economic outcomes. Apart from these \textit{intended} effects, development programs can have powerful \textit{unintended} side-effects. In this study, we explore one such side-effect: democratization. Specifically, we assess whether a standard development intervention unintentionally changes local hierarchies to become more democratic. We propose two primary channels how development interventions affect social hierarchies. First, new political roles and committees challenge existing elites. Second, economic specialization brings people closer together and results in new interest groups. Both channels should, in theory, lead to more democratic local-level decision-making. We assess these hypotheses in post-conflict Liberia using a cluster-randomized controlled trial. This pre-analysis plan lays out our empirical strategy to assess the program's effect on local democratization.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Hager, Anselm and Carlo Koos. 2021. "Democratization by Accident: Does Development Aid Change Local Hierarchies?." AEA RCT Registry. February 16.
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Experimental Details


The program includes three key components, to which communities are randomly assigned: i) gender empowerment; ii) water, sanitation and hygiene; and iii) agricultural innovation. The specific program components are described below:

Gender empowerment (RRP-Gender)
The first arm of the program implements a gender empowerment program. The program is implemented by Medica Liberia in 15 villages. The goal of the program is to address sexualized and gender based violence through prevention and advocacy. To this end, Medica will set up institutionalized women support groups in beneficiary villages. The groups support women in employment related issues and provide a support network in case women are subjected to violence.

Water, sanitation and hygiene (RRP-WASH)
The second arm of the program implements a behavior change program. The program is implemented by WHH in 112 villages. The purpose of the program is to change respondents' behavior toward water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Specific behaviors that are addressed in the program include nutrition during pregnancy, food handling, handwashing practices, cleanliness (to avoid rodents). Apart from behavioral change campaigns, this program arm also includes the rehabilitation of water pumps and the assignment of maintenance responsibilities to community members.

Agricultural innovation (RRP-Agri)
The third arm of the program provides agricultural training and tools to men and women. The agriculture program is implemented by Oxfam and WHH in 61 villages. The program provides high-value crops to farmers (e.g., rice, cassava, plantain, pineapple, beans) and also implements training workshops in order to improve production, processing, storage and marketing. The program also promotes the use of vegetables in lowlands and backyard gardening in the uplands.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Outcome 1: Community-decision making (battery of three questions)
Outcome 2: Democratic values
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Additionally, we construct an index for outcome 1

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The program across the three treatment arms is implemented after the baseline survey
has concluded. It will last for one year after which a midline survey will be conducted.
After the midline survey concludes, the former control villages will receive the program
for one year. Once the program has been implemented everywhere, an endline survey
will be conducted. The program thus follows a cross-over design.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computerized randomization
Randomization Unit
Unit of randomization is the village
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
121 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
ca. 10,000 households x 3 (base-, mid-, endline)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
After collecting baseline data, all 121 program villages were randomly assigned to
the different program arms or a pure control. Importantly, not every program could
be implemented in every village. As stated, 61 villages could receive RRP-Agri; 15
villages could receive RRP-Gender; and 112 villages could receive RRP-WASH. The
reason for the different sample sizes is owing to budget and logistical constraints. Since
our interest is in determining the effect of the three independent treatments relative to
the control (as well as potential interaction effects), we devised the following factorial
randomization scheme.

First, we randomly assigned the 15 RRP-Gender villages to treatment or con-
trol, blocking on whether any given village could also be assigned to RRP-Agri or
RRP-WASH, respectively. Second, we randomly assigned the 61 RRP-Agri villages to
treatment or control, blocking on whether any given village could also be assigned to
RRP-Gender or RRP-WASH as well as whether any given village had already been
assigned to treatment in the RRP-Gender. Third, we randomly assigned the 112 RRP-
WASH villages to treatment or control, blocking on whether any given village could
also be assigned to RRP-Agri or RRP-Gender, respectively, as well as blocking on
whether a village was assigned to treatment in the two respective programs. The final
assignment is provided in Section A. Table 1 (see PAP pdf) shows excellent balance for nine typical
baseline measures.

Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents


MD5: 342f1176d163cc7e9c65c7ab07f6c8c8

SHA1: 69e596c0c18b3d4db6f195a0325812c703a7d400

Uploaded At: March 03, 2020


Post Trial Information

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials