The Demand for Aid and the Supply of Development

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Though citizens in developing countries are the ostensible beneficiaries of international development, projects and policies are designed well above those on the ground. This dissertation collects three papers on the consequences of international development from the perspective of these intended beneficiaries. In the first paper, I argue that citizens in societies inundated with foreign aid have preferences for different types aid projects, favoring certain donors, certain sectors, and certain implementation styles over others. I develop a model in which the political returns to satisfying voter preferences motivate the distribution of aid by a recipient government. The results of this model correspond to the optimal distribution of aid projects given citizen demand. I estimate the demand for many types of aid projects using a conjoint experiment fielded in Uganda and compare this demand to the observed allocation of aid. In the second paper, I focus on the unintended political consequences of internal displacement during civil war, a decision prioritized by domestic governments but made possible with the help of international donors. Using a randomized response experiment, I show that returned internally displaced peoples in Northern Uganda are often the targets of vote buying in post-conflict elections and suggest that the removal of citizens from their land causes a severe economic shock, making the displaced particularly susceptible to vote buying. In the final paper, I explore the unintended economic consequences of government fragmentation. While the creation of new subnational administrative units intends to bring the government "closer to the people", I argue that many fragmented units lack the requisite administrative capacity to fulfill the provision of public goods. Combining remote-sensed development data in Burkina Faso with a difference-in-differences design, I show that communities within newly created units are often left behind.