State Building via Punitive and Restorative Justice: Evidence from the D.R. Congo

Resolving disputes is integral to the accumulation of state capacity. Yet too often policymakers privilege fiscal capacity building in fragile states over legal capacity building. In this project, researchers study a low-capacity state—the D.R. Congo—seeking to establish legal authority and how its efforts to do so shape citizens’ demand for the state. Specifically, they will examine the randomized rollout of a legal capacity building program implemented at scale in the city of Kananga (DRC) by the Ministry of Justice and a local NGO. This program has (1) a “punitive” legal capacity building arm in which state lawyers serve as neighborhood legal representatives with subsidized services, and (2) a “restorative” legal capacity building arm in which the neighborhood chief performs these same functions. They will examine effects on property rights security, crime, violence, and citizens’ willingness to pay for the formal state.

RFP Cycle:
Seventh Round (Fall 2021)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Mats Ahrenshop
  • Augustin Bergeron
  • Marina Ngoma
  • James Robinson
  • Full project