BBL | Improving Social Well-Being Through New Participatory Institutions

May 20, 2015
Washington DC


The Global Partnership for Social Accountability with the Citizen Engagement Secretariat and the Governance Global Practice invite you to a BBL:


Improving Social Well-Being Through New Participatory Institutions


Wednesday May 20th, 2015 | 12:30 - 2:00pm | Room J6-050
701 18th Street NW, Washington DC | Light lunch will be served






Dr. Brian Wampler

Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, Boise State University


Dr. Michael Touchton

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Boise State University



Yongmei Zhou

Governance Advisor, Governance Global Practice, World Bank



Roby Senderowitsch

Manager, Global Partnership for Social Accountability, World Bank


The speakers will share the results of their research evaluating the role of participatory budgeting (PB) for improving citizens’ well-being. Participatory institutions are said to enhance governance, citizens’ empowerment, and the quality of democracy, creating a virtuous cycle to improve the well-being of the poor. The research was published in the article, “Improving Social Well- Being Through New Democratic Institutionsin the journal Comparative Political Studies in 2014. The article is the first to show systematic connections between participatory budgeting and improvements in health care performance over time and across space. The research thus connects new participatory institutions to local state performance and important social outcomes.

Drawing from an original database of Brazil’s 250 largest cities over the last 20 years, they assessed whether adopting PB programs influences several indicators of well-being inputs, processes, and outcomes. The authors found that PB programs are strongly associated with increases in health care spending, increases in civil society organizations, and decreases in infant mortality rates. This connection strengthens dramatically as PB programs remain in place over longer time frames. Furthermore, the connection of PB to well-being strengthened at the hands of mayors from the nationally powerful, ideologically and electorally motivated Workers’ Party. The authors’ argument thus directly addresses debates on democracy and well-being and has powerful implications for participation, governance, and economic development.


The discussion will seek to explore:

- The potential for implementing participatory institutions beyond Latin America

- The role of sub-national participatory innovations for improving well-being

- The desire for broader data coverage to better test hypotheses and identify causation surrounding participation and state performance.



Brian Wampler

Dr. Brian Wampler is a Professor of Political Science at Boise State University (USA). He is the author of Activating Democracy in Brazil: Popular Participation, Social Justice and Interlocking Institutions (University of Norte Dame Press, 2015); and Participatory Budgeting in Brazil: Cooperation, Contestation, and Accountability (Pennsylvania State University Press 2007). He has published extensively on democracy, participation, civil society, and institution building in peer-reviewed journals such as Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, World Development, Polity, and Latin American Politics and Society as well as numerous book chapters.


Michael Touchton
Dr. Michael Touchton is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Boise State University. His research encompasses the political economy of foreign investment, the emergence of new democratic institutions and the challenge of community redevelopment at the local, national and international levels. His extensive international experience includes work and research throughout Latin America, SE Asia and Africa. His research appears in academic journals such as Comparative Political Studies, World Development, Urban Affairs Review and Latin American Research Review.


Yongmei Zhou

Yongmei Zhou is Governance Advisor in the Governance Global Practice. She received her PhD in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley before joining the World Bank as a Young Professional in 1999. Throughout her career in the Bank, Yongmei’s analytical and operational work has focused on the issues of corruption, public sector governance reform and institutional development. She worked in the Africa Region and the South Asia Region, including field assignments in Ghana and India. During 2012-14, Yongmei was Manager for the Global Center on Conflict, Security and Development. She is the co-Director of the next World Development Report on Governance and the Law.  


Roby Senderowitsch

Roby Senderowitsch currently serves as Program Manager of the Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA). He previously served as Country Manager of the World Bank in the Dominican Republic. A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University, his work in the Bank included a strong focus on political economy analysis, building coalitions for change, anti-corruption, and performance based management of public institutions. Before joining the Bank, Roby work with several NGOs in Argentina and Cuba, where he served as the Field Representative of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. He has been a lecturer in Human Resource management in nonprofit organizations, as well as director of educational programs and community development and human resource management in the private sector. Roby holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Buenos Aires and a series of postgraduate courses at Harvard and Stanford University.


Video Recording will be made available after the event.



Please RSVP with name and organization to, in order to obtain a visitor pass.


This event is part of the GPSA Brown Bag Lunch series.
More information at:


The GPSA is a Global Partnership of the World Bank Group.