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Political Participation and Civic Courage: The Negative Effect of Transparency on Making Campaign Contributions

37 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2013  

Raymond J. La Raja

University of Massachusetts at Amherst - Department of Political Science

Date Written: November 29, 2012

Abstract

This study assesses whether public disclosure of campaign contributions affects citizens’ willingness to give money to candidates. In the American states, campaign finance laws require disclosure of private information for contributors at relatively low thresholds ranging from $1 to $300. Drawing on social influence theory, the analysis suggests that citizens are sensitive to divulging private information, especially those who are surrounded by people with different political views. Using experimental data from the 2011 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies, it demonstrates how individuals refrain from making contributions or reduce their donations to avoid disclosing their identities. The experimental findings compare favorably to observational data on political contributions across states with different disclosure thresholds. The conclusion discusses the implications of transparency laws for political participation, especially for small donors.

Suggested Citation

La Raja, Raymond J., Political Participation and Civic Courage: The Negative Effect of Transparency on Making Campaign Contributions (November 29, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2202405 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2202405

Raymond J. La Raja (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts at Amherst - Department of Political Science ( email )

200 Hicks Way, Thompson Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
United States
413.545-6182 (Phone)

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