Informal institutions govern property rights and disputes when formal systems are weak. Well-functioning institutions help people reach and maintain bargains, minimizing violence. Can outside organizations engineer improvements and reduce violent conflicts? Will this improve property rights and investment? We experimentally evaluate a UN and civil society mass education campaign to promote alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practices and norms in rural communities, where violent land disputes are commonplace. Prior work showed a fall in violence and unresolved disputes within a year. We return after three years to test for sustained impacts and channels. Treated communities report large, sustained falls in violent disputes and a slight shift towards nonviolent norms. Treated residents also report larger farms, though overall effects on property rights and investments are mixed. Politically-connected residents report more secure property rights while those with fewer connections feel less secure. Sustained social engineering is feasible but politics can shape distributional outcomes.
The Political Science Seminar Series is convened by Desmond King and Ben Ansell. For more information on this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.