Information Dissemination, Competitive Pressure, and Politician Performance between Elections: A Field Experiment in Uganda
45 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 12, 2017
Politicians regularly underperform in their job duties due to the obscurity of their actions to constituents. In this study, we investigate the effects of a local NGO's initiative to improve the transparency of politicians' performance in a multi-year field experiment involving 408 politicians in 20 Ugandan district governments between the 2011 and 2016 elections. The NGO assembled annual performance scorecards to rate how well politicians carried out their legally defined job duties, and presented them to all politicians in plenary sessions. For randomly-selected politicians, the scorecard was additionally disseminated to constituents for two mid-term years. We find that scorecard dissemination to citizens improved politicians' subsequent performance across a range of performance measures, but only in competitive constituencies. These findings suggest that, conditional on electoral pressure, performance transparency can improve politicians' performance between elections. Service delivery, affected by the performance of many diverse government actors other than politicians, was unaffected.
Keywords: Political Accountability; Transparency; Political Economy; Incumbent Performance
JEL Classification: H7; D72; D81
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation