Democracy and Transparency

Swiss Political Science Review, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 99-112, October 2006

51 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2007

See all articles by B. Peter Rosendorff

B. Peter Rosendorff

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

John A. Doces

Bucknell University

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Corruption, resource extraction and waste by policymakers are endemic to any polity, and are often a source of poor economic performance. Voters in democracies can reduce this dissipation by revoking the authority of their elected officials at election times, but only if they have the information necessary to allocate responsibility for poor economic performance to this corrupt and inefficient leadership. This paper investigates the incentives of policymakers to provide this information about their actions and behavior, and investigates the differences in this willingness to be transparent across regime types. Key to understanding a policymaker's willingness to be transparent is his/her susceptibility to unfair eviction. If a policymaker can be tossed out of office when aggregate conditions are poor (which is observed by the voters directly), but waste and corruption have not been excessive (but these are not directly observed), this policymaker may be unfairly evicted from office. In order to avoid such a fate, a policymaker may provide more transparency-enhancing institutional devices to avoid such an outcome. Since democratic executives are more susceptible to unfair eviction, they are more likely to be more transparent when compared to autocratic policymakers.

Keywords: Transparency, Corruption, Elections

Suggested Citation

Rosendorff, Bryan Peter and Doces, John A., Democracy and Transparency. Swiss Political Science Review, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 99-112, October 2006 . Available at SSRN:

Bryan Peter Rosendorff (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

19 West 4th St.
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

John A. Doces

Bucknell University ( email )

701 Moore Ave.
Lewisburg, PA 17837
United States

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