Citizen Political Knowledge and Accountability: Survey Evidence on Devolution in Kenya
Opalo, Ken Ochieng. "Citizen political knowledge and accountability: Survey evidence on devolution in Kenya", Governance, Forthcoming
46 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2019 Last revised: 6 Apr 2020
Date Written: May 19, 2019
Devolution complicates citizens’ ability to assign responsibility for the provision of public goods and services to different tiers of government. Misattribution of responsibility limits the effectiveness electoral accountability in the nested principal-agent relationships comprising voters, politicians, and bureaucrats. This raises two important questions. First, how do citizens learn about the functions of different tiers of government under devolution? Second, how do levels of political knowledge condition citizens’ evaluations of sub-national governments? Using cross-sectional and panel survey data from Kenya (2014 - 2018), this article shows that voters accumulate knowledge through exposure to government services, but that gender and partisanship condition knowledge accumulation. In addition, exposed citizens are more likely to give positive evaluations of subnational politicians, despite the fact that such exposure may reveal subnational governments’ low capacity, ineffectiveness, and governance gaps. These findings advance our understanding of the dynamics of political accountability under devolution.
Keywords: Devolution, Political Knowledge, Accountability, Public Services, Attribution
JEL Classification: P16, P26, P35, Z10, Z13, Z18
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