Date Presented:18 Apr
In many developing countries, auxiliaries of the formal civil service are organized at the level of a handful of households to carry out administrative tasks. This institutional form is especially common in, but not limited to, Pacific Asia, where it is a legacy of Japanese colonialism. Neighborhood governance of this kind is a top-down project designed to direct organizational life to state purposes. When effective, these systems provide cheap labor to the state, supplementing small civil services and security forces with organized volunteers. These systems originated in periods of non-democratic rule, but in a number of countries, have continued to function long after democratization. It is not clear, however, why residents choose to provide this labor in a democratic context. With evidence from Indonesia, I find evidence suggesting that the effectiveness of the neighborhood governance system depends on residents’ incentives to participate, and that these are related to individual characteristics, including age, and community characteristics like residential mobility. I then outline designs for testing the effects of these characteristics on participation in neighborhood governance, and the effects of neighborhood leadership density on political participation and disaster recovery.