Civic engagement, the leverage effect, and the accountable state

Activity: Talks and presentationsTalk or oral contributionScience to Science


A classic “solution” to the public goods (PG) problem is the provision through a strong state with the power to collect taxes and to mete out penalties for non-compliance. We argue that civic engagement is required for this classic solution to work. Civic engagement is required to shackle the strong state and to make it accountable to its citizens which, in turn, helps to prevent the state from abusing its power. But civic engagement is itself a public good which tends to be underprovided. We conjecture that the second-order dilemma of civic engagement may be tractable due to a leverage effect: civic engagement involves incurring a modest cost which can be leveraged into highly valuable public goods through the exercise of power of an accountable state. In a framed laboratory experiment, we find that low-cost civic engagement is well sustained, a finding that contrast with the usual decay in first-order collective action problems.
Period22 Apr 2021
Held atMiddlebury College, United States, Vermont
Degree of RecognitionInternational