1. Bandits or states? Historical data gathering armed groups’ behavior on 600 population settlements


Funders: NSFPEDL, ICTD, IPRAF, PER Columbia, CSDS Columbia, AC4 Columbia

Location: North Kivu and South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Collaborators: Gauthier Marchais, LSE


* On the origin of states 

* On the ends of states

* Indirect rule by armed groups

* New approaches to measuring state and armed groups’ legitimacy

* Infrastructure and state capacity




2. Organizing state extortion

Funders: PEDL, IGC

Location: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Collaborators: Kristof Titeca, Universiteit Antwerpen

Output:  Studying organized informal payments inside the state administration and testing experimental interventions

Likaku akufaka na mbuma na ye na monoko – the monkey dies with its fruit in the mouth. Congolese policemen saying




3. State Reform

Funders: World Bank

Location: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Collaborators: World Bank, DIME

Output: Nationwide state administration survey and experiments with public administration reforms aimed at improving performance by targeting patronage networks





4. Armed groups and private sector development

Funders: PEDL

Location: North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Collaborators: none

Output: Studying the private sector responses to conflict and armed groups





5. Why do states abduct? Sicilian fishermen, state extortion, and geopolitics

Funders: –

Location: Mediterranean sea

Collaborators: Naor Ben-Yehoada and Vito Pipitone

Output: Studying the economics of coercion with networks





6. Taxation in a failed state

Funders: DFID D.R.C.

Location: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Collaborators: Laura Paler, Wilson Pritchard, Cyrus Samii

Output: Measuring predatory taxation with new technologies and testing experimental interventions to protect households and businesses from predatory behavior by state agents





7. The political economy of household relations

Funders: –

Location: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Collaborators: –

Output: Examining the role of power and investment in power in resource allocation in the household







Formal contracting and informal institutions, Democratic Republic of Congo, RCT (with Jean-Paul Zibika)


Social impact of community Driven DevelopmentDemocratic Republic of Congo, RCT (with the IRC, Macartan Humphreys and Peter van der Windt)


Who’s watching? Effects of Monitoring on Strategies of Corruption: Lessons From an Experiment in Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, RCT (with Macartan Humphreys and Peter van der Windt)


Identity and Socialization (with Sebastian Turban)






 Elections, taxation, and accountability,  Democratic Republic of Congo, RCT (with the IRC, Macartan Humphreys and Peter van der Windt)


Public health information disseminationDemocratic Republic of Congo, RCT (with the IRC, Macartan Humphreys and Peter van der Windt)




​”In the beginning, there was no government to speak of in the United States, but over time the Mai Mai army brought law: “The more people worked, the stronger the Mai Mai army grew. They grew rich from the 50 percent that they earned from the diggers.” But even then, like its namesake, the United States of America was known as a relatively liberal place with many freedoms and this helped to make it a land of opportunity: “A person could go from nothing to something, and no one cared who you were or where you were from, what your ethnicity was, so long as you were strong, and could work.” Because so many people wanted to go there, and there was a constant threat to security, when a newcomer visited the United States of America she had to apply for a visa: “They gave you an identification card, and the Mai Mai told you, ‘Welcome. You are in the United States of America now, another country. You have left Congo behind.’ ” There were customs officials there, inspecting goods, assessing value, and placing tax.” (Smith 2015)​