Measuring Transparency

57 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2012 Last revised: 11 Apr 2013

See all articles by James R. Hollyer

James R. Hollyer

Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota

B. Peter Rosendorff

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

James Raymond Vreeland

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: April 5, 2013

Abstract

Transparency is often viewed as crucial to government accountability, but its measurement remains elusive. This concept encompasses many dimensions, which have distinct effects. In this paper, we focus on a specific dimension of transparency: governments' collection and dissemination of aggregate data. We construct a measure of this aspect of transparency, using an item response model that treats transparency as a latent predictor of the reporting of data to the World Bank's World Development Indicators. The resultant index covers 125 countries from 1980-2010. Unlike some alternatives (e.g., Freedom House), our measure -- the HRV Index -- is based on objective criteria rather than subjective expert judgments. Unlike newspaper circulation numbers, HRV reflects the dissemination of credible content -- in that it has survived the World Bank's quality control assessment. We find that HRV systematically ranks democracies as more transparent than either Freedom House or newspaper circulation figures. We argue that these differences are theoretically significant, and that HRV serves as a better predictor of government performance (1) in autocracies or (2) when the consequences of policy choices are unknown to the public. We demonstrate that HRV is a stronger predictor of a wide range of governance outcomes than is media circulation, particularly for autocratic regimes.

Keywords: Transparency, Measurement, Accountability, Item Response, Democracy, Autocracy

JEL Classification: C43, C11, P16

Suggested Citation

Hollyer, James R. and Rosendorff, Bryan Peter and Vreeland, James Raymond, Measuring Transparency (April 5, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2113665 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2113665

James R. Hollyer (Contact Author)

Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota ( email )

1414 Social Sciences
267 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jameshollyer.com

Bryan Peter Rosendorff

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

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

James Raymond Vreeland

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.profvreeland.com

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
388
rank
74,298
Abstract Views
2,833
PlumX Metrics
!

Under construction: SSRN citations will be offline until July when we will launch a brand new and improved citations service, check here for more details.

For more information