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Participatory accountability and collective action: experimental evidence from Albania

Barr, Abigail; Packard, Truman; Serra, Danila


Truman Packard

Danila Serra


It has been argued that accountability is a public good that only citizens can provide. Governments can put institutions in place that allow citizens to hold public servants to account, but citizens must participate in those institutions if accountability is to be achieved. Thus, citizens face a social dilemma — participate in holding public servants to account at a cost in terms of time and effort or free ride, i.e. do not participate, while benefiting from the efforts of those who do. If this characterization of accountability is valid, we would expect more cooperatively inclined citizens to participate in account¬ ability institutions, while the less cooperatively inclined do not. We test the validity of this characterization by investigating the correlation between individual behavior in a simple public goods game and their participation in local and national accountability institutions in Albania. We involve a nationally representative sample of 1800 adults with children in primary school. We find significant correlations between cooperativeness and participa¬ tion in school accountability institutions and national elections, both at the individual level and the district level. These correlations are robust to the introduction of many controls in the analysis and, in the case of national elections, to the use of official election turn-out statistics in place of self-reported turn-out.


Barr, A., Packard, T., & Serra, D. (2014). Participatory accountability and collective action: experimental evidence from Albania. European Economic Review, 68,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 17, 2014
Online Publication Date Feb 6, 2014
Publication Date May 1, 2014
Deposit Date Feb 24, 2015
Publicly Available Date Feb 24, 2015
Journal European Economic Review
Print ISSN 0014-2921
Electronic ISSN 0014-2921
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 68
Keywords Accountability; Participation; Elections; Collective action; Public good games
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in European economic review. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in European Economic review, 68,(May 2014), doi: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2014.01.010


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