Research ArticleECONOMICS

Procedural fairness and nepotism among local traditional and democratic leaders in rural Namibia

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Science Advances  08 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 15, eaay7651
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay7651
  • Fig. 1 Likelihood of procedural choices.

    (A) Point estimates of the differences in means between democratic leaders and chiefs (μDEL − μchiefs) of the likelihood to implement a democratic procedure compared to pooled autocratic choices. Negative values imply higher prevalence of the democratic rule option among chiefs. CI, confidence interval. (B) Estimates for a subsample of only autocratic choices (excluding the democratic alternative), where negative values imply higher prevalence of pseudo-democratic rule among chiefs. All coefficients and CIs are computed using OLS regressions with robust SEs.

  • Fig. 2 Share of nepotistic leaders.

    (A) The frequency of lenient (leniency = 1, if punishmentNR pair < punishmentNN pair) behavior and (B) the frequency of vengeful (vengefulness = 1, if punishmentRN pair > punishmentNN pair) behavior for DELs and chiefs. The bars in blue represent the lenient and vengeful punishment behavior of chiefs; the bars in red denote the behavior of DELs. The dotted grey lines indicate 95% CIs.

  • Fig. 3 Social preferences and personality traits of leaders and villagers.

    (A) Differences in social preferences between DELs, chiefs, and villagers. Subjects are classified according to their distributional choices across three decisions. Participants are categorized as prosocial if they select a distribution of (5,5) versus (5,0), as sharing if they choose (5,5) versus (10,0), and as spiteful if they choose (5,5) versus (5,10). Participants are considered egalitarian if they at least choose (5,5) in the prosocial and spiteful trade-off. Generous participants at least maximize their partner’s payoff in the prosocial and spite decisions, when their payoff is not at stake. If subjects minimize their partner’s payoff in all decisions, they are categorized as spiteful. (B) Differences in standardized personality traits between the two leader types (data on villagers are not available).

  • Fig. 4 Villagers’ perception of leader performance.

    Villagers (n = 384) evaluated the performance of both DELs and chiefs in the survey.

  • Fig. 5 Relative trust and performance of chiefs compared to elected local councilors.

    Own illustration using the data from round 6 of the Afrobarometer. The bars represent the mean difference of (A) trust (n = 45.502) and (B) performance (n = 34.852) of elected councilors compared to traditional leaders. Negative values imply that people have more trust or are more satisfied with the performance of the traditional authority than with the elected councilor. Afrobarometer, Merged Round 6 Data (36 countries) (2016) (available at

  • Fig. 6 Monetary consequences of leader’s antisocial behavior.

    (A) Average amount reduced through antisocial decisions (as defined in the text) in all three tasks by leaders. (B) Distribution of destroyed earnings.

  • Fig. 7 Decision settings for the procedural fairness and the nepotism task.

    (A) Procedural fairness task. The numbers in the gray box refer to monetary amounts in Namibian dollars. The first amount in each distribution goes to the leader; the following six go to the villagers. Under a democratic and pseudo-democratic rule, villagers are informed that the leader “allows a vote.” Under pseudo-democratic rule, villagers are permitted to vote, but it is the leader who decides alone in the end. Under dictator rule, villagers are informed that the leader has decided unilaterally. (B) Nepotism task. Leaders receive 40 N$ for each of the three pairs of villagers, which they can spend on punishing player 2. Every dollar spent on punishment (p) by leaders reduces the second player’s income by three times as much, but not below zero. The income of the first player remains unaltered. The treatment composition shows the relationships between villagers 1 and 2 and the leader. Leaders make two punishment decisions for villager 2 in all three compositions of pairs (RN, NR, and NN). For each pair, we have 64 punishment observations in which villager 2 plays “down,” as well as 64 observations in which villager 2 plays “right.”

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary Materials

    Procedural fairness and nepotism among local traditional and democratic leaders in rural Namibia

    Björn Vollan, Esther Blanco, Ivo Steimanis, Fabian Petutschnig, Sebastian Prediger

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