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Better together? Examining the effect of civic education on local government responsiveness and citizen engagement

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Governance Lab

Project type Research 

Country The Philippines 

Support £75,000

In partnership with Implementing organisations of the Global Partnership for Social Accountability’s (GPSA) ‘Project-i-Pantawid’
“Does bringing citizens and local officials together to engage constructively on civic issues work as a means of achieving social accountability?”
Start date
October 2016
End date
July 2017
Period: 10 months


Governance interventions generally focus on providing citizens with information to remedy information asymmetries between officials and citizens. But officials may also suffer from incomplete information, especially at the local level. Empowering citizens to exercise rights that local officials do not understand may have unintended consequences, leading to a more adversarial relationship between citizens and officials.


Through a field experiment in the northern Philippines, this research tests whether providing civic education to citizens and officials together is more effective at improving local government performance and increasing citizen engagement than providing it to citizens alone.

The study combines a randomised experimental design with rigorous qualitative fieldwork to investigate the contextual characteristics that lead to different outcomes for improving local government performance.


The MIT GOV/LAB is a research group of political scientists focusing on innovation in citizen engagement and government responsiveness.

The group collaborates with social enterprises, funders and governments on research that builds and tests theories about how innovative programmes and technologies can make governments more accountable to citizens.


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