Sheely, Ryan. 2013. “Maintaining Local Public Goods: Evidence From Rural Kenya”.
Political Scientists have produced a substantial body of theory and evidence that explains variation in the availability of local public goods in developing countries. Existing research cannot explain variation in how these goods are maintained over time. I develop a theory that explains how the interactions between government and community institutions shape public goods maintenance. I test the implications of this theory using a qualitative case study and a randomized field experiment that assigns communities participating in a waste management program in rural Kenya to three different institutional arrangements. I find that localities with no formal punishments for littering experienced sustained reductions in littering behavior and increases in the frequency of public clean-ups. In contrast, communities in which government administrators or traditional leaders could punish littering experienced short-term reductions in littering behavior that were not sustained over time.