Anjali Thomas Bohlken, Assistant Professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech, will visit the United Nations University Institute in Macau to present her research on the collective understanding of the key drivers of formalization as well as of the knock-on effects of formalization on citizens’ welfare and political accountability.
Across the developing world, many citizens must rely on informal providers rather than the government to gain access to basic amenities such as electricity, housing, and water. In turn, getting citizens on the state’s grid when it comes to these services has the potential of not only boosting government revenue but also of increasing citizens’ welfare and of strengthening the social contract between citizens and the state. Yet, the question of how such formalization can be achieved has been underexplored and the effects of such formalization have not been rigorously examined. Our study seeks to address these gaps through the use of a field experiment in Mumbai, India. Specifically, our study will assess the effects of complementary interventions that target two types of costs associated with the formalization of water access amongst slum residents: bureaucratic engagement costs and political mobilization costs. These interventions will be implemented by local NGOs and will be randomized across 140 slum colonies across Mumbai. Through this study, we seek to advance our collective understanding of the key drivers of formalization as well as of the knock-on effects of formalization on citizens’ welfare and political accountability.
Anjali Thomas Bohlken is an Assistant Professor at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech. Prior to this, she was Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. She obtained her Ph.D. from New York University in 2010.
She is the author of the book “Democratization from Above: The Logic of Local Democracy in the Developing World” published by Cambridge University Press (2016) which focuses on the establishment of village level democratic institutions in India. She is also the author of several articles and book chapters focusing on questions surrounding democratic accountability, dynastic politics and the link between economic conditions and ethnic violence. Currently, she is working on a series of projects focused on the politics surrounding the implementation of public programs for infrastructure provision in India. She is also working on a project on water access in Mumbai’s slums funded by UK’s Department for International Development. Her work has been cited in several news outlets including “The Guardian”, “The New York Times”, “Vox”, “The Hindu: Business Line”, “Live Mint” and the “Wall Street Journal blog”.