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Political Science and Political Economy Research Seminar

CANCELLED: Building State Capacity: What is the Impact of Development Projects?

Stuti Khemani (World Bank)

Tuesday 22 March 2022 14:00 - 15:30

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.


About this event

Although research has established the importance of state capacity in economic development, less is known about how to build that capacity and the role of external partners in the process. This paper estimates the impact of a typical development project designed to build state capacity in a low-income country. Specifically, it evaluates a multilateral development bank project in Tanzania, which incentivized investments in local state capacity by offering grants conditional on institutional performance scores. The paper uses a difference-in-differences methodology to estimate the project impact, comparing outcomes between 18 project and 22 non-project local governments over 2016–18. Outcomes were measured through two rounds of primary surveys of nearly 500 local government officials and nearly 3,000 households. Over the course of the project, measured state capacity improved in project areas, but due to comparable gains in non-project areas, the project’s value-added to change in state capacity is estimated to be zero across all the dozens of relevant variables in the surveys. The data suggest that state capacity is evolving in Tanzania through endogenous changes in trust and legitimacy in the country rather than from financial incentives offered by external partners.

The Political Science and Political Economy (PSPE) research group at the LSE brings together faculty and PhD students who do quantitative and/or formal research on political institutions, political behaviour, public policy, and political economy.

The PSPE Research Seminar provides a venue for researchers (mostly from outside of the LSE) to present their work.

These seminars are held on Tuesdays in term time at 14.00-15.30, both ONLINE AND IN PERSON in room 32L 3.05, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar coordinator: Dr Stephane Wolton

Contact gov.comms@lse.ac.uk to be added to the mailing list and to recieve the zoom link.