Left Behind? Citizen Responsiveness to Government Performance Information

75 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2014 Last revised: 22 Sep 2015

Date Written: July 17, 2015


Do citizens respond to policy-based information signals about government performance? Using multiple big datasets — which link for the first time large-scale school administrative records and individual validated voting behavior — I show that citizens react to exogenous school failure signals provided by No Child Left Behind. These signals cause a noticeable increase in turnout in local school board elections and increase the competitiveness of these races. Additionally, I present evidence that school failure signals cause citizens to vote with their feet by exiting failing schools: suggesting that exit plays an underexplored role in democratic accountability. However, performance signals elicit a response unequally, with failure primarily mobilizing high propensity citizens and encouraging exit among those who are white, affluent, and more likely to vote. Hence, while performance signals spur a response, they do so only for a select few, leaving many others behind.

Keywords: Information, Democratic Accountability, Performance Accountability, Regression Discontinuity, Voter Turnout, Exit, No Child Left Behind

Suggested Citation

Holbein, John, Left Behind? Citizen Responsiveness to Government Performance Information (July 17, 2015). Forthcoming, American Political Science Review, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2455512

John Holbein (Contact Author)

University of Virginia ( email )

111 Garrett Hall, University of Virginia
United States
4342432899 (Phone)
22903 (Fax)

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