Traditional Governance, Citizen Engagement, and Local Public Goods: Evidence from Mexico

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Alberto Díaz-Cayeros and Alexander Ruiz-Euler
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World Development 53, 80–93

We study the governance of public good provision in poor communities in Oaxaca, Mexico. We estimate the effect of usos y costumbres—a form of participatory democracy prevalent in indigenous communities—on the provision of local public goods. Because governance is endogenous, we address selection effects by matching on municipal characteristics and long-term settlement patterns. Using a first-differences design we show that these municipalities increase access to electricity, sewerage, and education faster than communities ruled by political parties. We also show they are places of vibrant political participation, not authoritarian enclaves protecting the political monopoly of local bosses.