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African Successes, Volume IGovernment and Institutions$
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Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David N. Weil

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226316222

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226316369.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 22 October 2019

Healing the Wounds

Healing the Wounds

Learning from Sierra Leone’s Postwar Institutional Reforms

Chapter:
(p.15) 1 Healing the Wounds
Source:
African Successes, Volume I
Author(s):

Katherine Casey

Rachel Glennerster

Edward Miguel

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226316369.003.0003

While its recent history of civil war, chronic poverty and corrupt governance would cause many to dismiss Sierra Leone as a hopeless case, the country’s economic and political performance over the last decade has defied expectations. We examine how several factors—including the legacy of war, ethnic diversity, decentralization and community-driven development (CDD)—have shaped local institutions and national political dynamics. The story that emerges is a nuanced one: war does not necessarily destroy the capacity for local collective action; ethnicity affects residential choice, but does not impede local public goods provision; while politics remain heavily ethnic, voters are willing to cross ethnic boundaries when they have better information about candidates; decentralization can work even where capacity is limited, although the results are mixed; and for all of its promise, CDD does not appear to transform local institutions nor social norms. All of these findings are somewhat “unexpected,” but they are quite positive in signalling that even one of the world’s poorest, most violent and ethnically diverse societies can overcome major challenges and progress towards meaningful economic and political development.

Keywords:   institutions, economic development, war, ethnicity, public goods, voting, decentralization

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