What do workers tell us about public goods provision?

When in the field one often meet groups that are working on public goods – constructing schools, clearing the road, digging trenches for drainage, etc. If we want to know more about public goods (for example, who contributes to them) why not observe these groups? The idea of this project is to survey 10 randomly selected workers of these groups, and the group’s leader, throughout Eastern Congo. This information will then be matched with information obtained from other projects we have running in the DRC.

I hope to learn three things from this project:

  1. Does a particular type of people (for example migrants) contribute more to public goods? By obtaining observational data on the composition of the group, and matching this to the area’s composition we know whether a particular group contributes more. For example, if 80% of the workers are X and in the area only 20% are X, we can argue that people of type X contribute more. This is also a check on survey questions that ask about the respondent’s contribution to public goods.
  2. Second, this exercise will provide information about the process of how the public goods provision came about. It opens the black box by answering questions such as “Who is the person that took the initiative for the project?”‘ and “Who pays for the project?”
  3. Finally, there are multiple reasons why people might contribute to a public good. This is the opportunity to ask them.

Material and presentations

  • IRB approval: September 24, 2011 (IRB-AAAI4550)
  • Survey documentation in English and French
  • Local approval in English and French


  • People: Peter van der Windt
  • Partners: None
  • Funding: Own pocket
  • Location: Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

Photo 1 shows the construction of a market in a small village in Sud Kivu’s territory of Walungu. In the group of people on the left the chief of the village stands on the right and the person responsible for the construction on the left (with the UNICEF bag). Interestingly, the project is paid for by Banro – a Canadian mining company – that owns several mines nearby the village. Photo 2 shows two of their Catterpillars working on the road. Source: Own camera.