Endogenous Benchmarking and Government Accountability: Experimental Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic

43 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2022

See all articles by Michael Becher

Michael Becher

IE University

Sylvain Brouard

Sciences Po - Center for Political Research (CEVIPOF)

Daniel Stegmueller

Duke University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 21, 2022

Abstract

Can citizens hold governments accountable for their management of the COVID-19 pandemic? While benchmarking theories argue that cross-national comparison in the media can provide the necessary information, we relax the assumption that people are exogenously exposed to the same benchmarks. Integrating politically selective news exposure into the theory captures a key countervailing mechanism. Using the pandemic as an important test case, we embedded survey experiments capturing self-selection and exogenous exposure to factual information in representative surveys in France, Germany, and the UK. We find that exogenous benchmarks have consistent effects on individuals' evaluations. But when given the opportunity to select the benchmark, there is significant self-selection based on respondents' pre-treatment political views. Importantly, self-selection is not complete and in a second experiment we show that self-selected types do not differentially respond to information. Altogether, our results suggest that self-selection limits, but does not break, benchmarking as an instrument of accountability.

Keywords: democracy, accountability, cross-national benchmarking, COVID-19

JEL Classification: D72, D91, H12

Suggested Citation

Becher, Michael and Brouard, Sylvain and Stegmueller, Daniel, Endogenous Benchmarking and Government Accountability: Experimental Evidence from the COVID-19 Pandemic (February 21, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4039939 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4039939

Michael Becher (Contact Author)

IE University ( email )

Paseo de la Castellana, 259
Madrid, 28046
Spain

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.ie.edu/university/about/faculty/michael-becher/

Sylvain Brouard

Sciences Po - Center for Political Research (CEVIPOF) ( email )

98 rue de l'Université
Paris, 75007
France

Daniel Stegmueller

Duke University - Department of Political Science ( email )

140 Science Drive (Gross Hall), 2nd floor
Duke University Mailcode: 90204
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.daniel-stegmueller.com

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