Working Paper

Bypass Aid and Perceptions of Local Government Performance and Legitimacy

Date Published

Jun 28, 2018


Kate Baldwin, Matthew S. Winters



Baldwin, Kate and Matthew S. Winters. 2018. Bypass Aid and Perceptions of Local Government Performance and Legitimacy. AidData Working Paper #56. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.

Update: A revised version of this paper has been published in Studies in Comparative International Development.


What are the consequences of revealing true information about the origins and administration of local development projects to Ugandan adults? Do they think differently about their own government when they learn that the financing for a local development project has come from outside of their country and that the entity responsible for bringing the project to their community is a non-governmental organization? We conduct an informational experiment among N=2,446 Ugandan adults in 18 different parishes in which we randomize the information that we provide about a local project in which foreign aid bypasses the government (i.e., funding from donors is provided to NGOs for project implementation). Our experimental design permits us to separately estimate the effect of finding out a project is donor-funded, the effect of finding out a project is NGO-implemented, and their interaction. We use both survey measures and a donation game to study whether citizens are more or less responsive to government entreaties. We find that providing information about bypass aid decreases citizens’ beliefs about the quality of their local government but has limited effects on their willingness to comply with the government in either survey or behavioral measures. We also find evidence that information that a project bypasses government increases citizens’ willingness to contribute money to it.

Funding: This research was supported by AidData at the College of William and Mary and the USAID Global Development Lab through cooperative agreement AID-OAA-A-12-00096. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of AidData, USAID, or the United States Government.

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Featured Authors

Kate Baldwin

Kate Baldwin

Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University

Matthew Winters

Matthew Winters

Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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