Owning It: Accountability and Citizens’ Ownership over Oil, Aid, and Taxes

Brandon de la Cuesta, Lucy Martin, Helen V. Milner, Daniel L. Nielson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Government accountability is severely lacking in many developing countries, yet we know relatively little about the causal dynamics that produce citizen demands for greater responsiveness. We argue that a sense of ownership over public money heightens expectations for government services and induces expressive demands for accountability, and we apply the new theory in sub-Saharan Africa. Results from a series of lab-in-the-field experiments in Uganda and Ghana and from a nationally representative survey-based field experiment in Uganda all demonstrate that higher feelings of ownership over public revenues significantly increase citizens’ accountability pressures on leaders. Furthermore, simple interventions can significantly increase feelings of revenue ownership over oil and aid windfalls, producing demands for accountability indistinguishable from taxes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-320
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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