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
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