Information and Political Accountability. Evidence from Seven Studies.

Speaker: Macartan Humphreys

Columbia University and WZB Berlin

This event is part of the CESS Seminar series.

This talk presents results from the multi-team Metaketa I project. Simple logic suggests that the quality of democratic performance depends on the information available to voters about the performance of politicians. Absent information on politician performance voters are limited in their ability to select effective leaders and to use the ballot box as an incentive mechanism. Simple as the logic may be, there are both theoretical and empirical reasons to question it. In theory voters may base decisions on criteria other than performance. Empirical results appear inconsistent across contexts. In this study seven teams coordinated randomized interventions in six countries to assess whether exogenous shocks to information make voters more likely to support politicians that perform well and to sanction those that perform poorly. A Metanalysis across all studies finds little or no evidence of voter responsiveness to political information when deciding whether to vote and who to vote for.