Sarah Brierley

Sarah Brierley is a Assistant Professor at Washington University, St. Louis. Her research focuses on governance, political accountability, and elections in low-income democracies. Her dissertation investigates the political economy of public sector development in Africa, focusing on the case of Ghana.

Content by Sarah Brierley
  • Publication - Project Report

    Do chiefs' endorsements affect voter behaviour?

    We study whether and why traditional leaders can influence voter behaviour using real endorsement messages made by chiefs in support of the incumbent presidential candidate during Ghana’s 2020 presidential elections. Using an experimental design, we document a positive impact of endorsement messages on vote choice, but not on turnout. We find that the effect of chiefs’...

    17 Sep 2021 | Sarah Brierley, George Ofosu

  • Project

    Do endorsements by traditional leaders affect voter attitudes?

    Traditional leaders or chiefs are believed to wield significant influence on their subjects' civic engagement, political participation, and vote choice. Scholars argue that the source of their legitimacy – historical socio-cultural customs – and subjects' trust and reverence enable them to help elected officials mobilise citizens to contribute their labour to community...

    14 Jul 2021 | Sarah Brierley, George Ofosu

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Procurement mismanagement and the politicisation of bureaucratic transfers in Ghana

    Governments in developing countries typically spend over half of their budgets purchasing goods and services from private companies. The mismanagement of this procurement is common in many countries, including Ghana, and can severely undermine development. Common modes of malfeasance include public officials selecting contractors on the basis of personal or partisan...

    1 Aug 2018 | Sarah Brierley

  • Blog post

    Local government corruption in Ghana: Misplaced control and incentives

    Bureaucrat corruption corresponds to the control politicians have over their careers. Politicians distort processes to extract funds and garner influence. A more structured bureaucrat transfer process and the monitoring of procurement can curtail corruption. In Ghana in early 2017, a police officer became embroiled in a conflict with a renowned Member of Parliament (MP)....

    22 Nov 2017 | Sarah Brierley

  • Blog post

    The impact of parliamentary debates on Ghana’s 2016 elections

    Both televised and radio debates increase informed and tolerant voter behaviour, boding well for peaceful elections in young democracies. Electoral debates have a long history in democratic politics. The most famous such event was the televised interaction between Kennedy and Nixon in 1960. Today, debates are held in over 60 countries across all regions of the world, from...

    18 Aug 2017 | Sarah Brierley, Eric Kramon, George Ofosu

  • Project

    Do candidate debates strengthen democracy? A field experiment on the effects of debates on voter behaviour and electoral accountability

    Candidate debates are currently held in over 60 countries around the world. Increasingly, they are being held in developing countries with financial support from international democracy-promotion organisations on the grounds that they strengthen democracy. In developing democracies, debates have the potential to provide valuable information to citizens on the character and...

    9 Jan 2017 | Sarah Brierley, Eric Kramon, George Ofosu

  • Project

    When does the state deliver? An analysis of procurement practices among local governments in Ghana

    Under what conditions do bureaucrats and politicians have an incentive to defraud the state through corrupt procurement practices? Public officers regularly award contracts to private companies to construct public goods. However, these elites often abuse their position and award contracts to politically connected firms in return for campaign donations or personal kickbacks....

    16 Dec 2015 | Daniel Posner, Sarah Brierley