The politics of policy reform:
Experimental evidence from Liberia

Wayne Aaron Sandholtz

Nova School of Business and Economics and NOVAFRICA

ISSN 2183-0843
Working Paper No 2202
August 2022


Public service reform often entails broad benefits for society and concentrated costs for interest groups. Do the electoral benefits outweigh the costs for politicians who implement reform? This paper examines the electoral effects of a randomized Liberian school reform which increased student learning but antagonized teachers. The policy reduced ruling party vote share by 3 percentage points (10%). It also reduced teachers’ job satisfaction by 0.18s and political involvement by 0.22s. I use the evaluation’s pairwise randomization to show that the effect on vote share was positively correlated with student learning, and negatively correlated with teacher political disengagement.

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