Nancy Bermeo and Jasmine Bhatia awarded DFID grant to study 'International Aid and Local Legitimacy'

Nancy Bermeo and Jasmine Bhatia have been given a Department of International Development award for a project entitled 'International Aid & Local Legitimacy: The Impact of Subnational Governance Programs in Afghanistan'.

There is an emerging consensus that establishing legitimate governance in fragile states is critical for creating effective and resilient state institutions. While a growing body of research on fragile states suggests that acts of corruption by local elites and incidents of insecurity may undermine efforts to build public trust between governments and citizens, there is still a lack of statistically compelling evidence about the relative importance of these factors and their impact on government legitimacy. Are citizens in fragile states willing to tolerate a certain amount of corruption in exchange for security, or does corruption ultimately undermine security by increasing public support for anti-government forces? To what extent do demographics, education, and socio-economic status play a role in shaping public preferences? Are public expectations with regards to political leadership different in regions with a relatively higher capacity to deliver public goods?
Based on original fieldwork in Afghanistan, we intend to use a series of survey experiments to shed light on determinants of public legitimacy. The experiments will measure how incidences of corruption and insecurity impact public trust in government institutions at local and central levels, respondent leadership preferences, and the inclination of respondents to exercise an ‘exit’ option through migration.

This project started on 1 November 2015 and runs until 30 March 2017.

Jasmine Bhatia is a DPhil student at Nuffield College, University of Oxford.