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Outside Funding and the Dynamics of Participation in Community Associations

Sponsors: Thematic Group on Poverty Impact Analysis, Monitoring and Evaluation
Presenter: Michael Kremer, Harvard University
Date: Thursday, May 10, 12:30 - 2:00pm

The poor and disadvantaged are widely seen as having weak organizations and low rates of participation in community associations, impeding their political representation and economic advancement. A number of policy initiatives aim to build participation and organizational strength among the disadvantaged by funding local community associations. Taking advantage of random assignment in a program which provided support to women's community associations in Kenya, we find little evidence that outside funding expanded organizational strength but substantial evidence that funding changed group membership and leadership. The program led younger women, more educated women, and women employed in the formal sector to enter the groups. Men, educated women, and new entrants moved into leadership positions, and government officials increased efforts to build vertical links to the groups. The rate at which members left groups due to conflicts doubled and exit rates among older women, the most socially marginalized demographic group, increased by two-thirds. A dynamic model based on the findings may help explain the relative weakness of organizations of the disadvantaged and low civic participation among the disadvantaged.


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