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Do Citizens See Through Transparency? Evidence from Survey Experiments in Peru

  • Darren Hawkins, Lucas C. Brook, Ian M. Hansen, Neal A. Hoopes and Taylor R. Tidwell...
Abstract

Government transparency is widely promoted, yet little is known about transparency’s effects. Survey experiments reported here, made on the streets of Lima, Peru, investigate a simple question: what are the effects of government-sponsored transparency websites, and the information revealed by those efforts, on attitudes about the Peruvian political system? Like many developing countries, Peru lacks much system support, making it more difficult to improve governance and democracy; transparency itself has little impact on political attitudes. However, some dimensions of the information provided by transparency matter: endorsement by a credible third party or framing that associates comparatively good community well-being with government performance. These conditions substantively increase Peruvians’ approval of the national political community, the regime’s performance, institutions, and local government.

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All the authors are at the Department of Political Science, Brigham Young University (email: dhawkins@byu.edu; lucascbrook@gmail.com; nealhoopes@gmail.com; taylorrtidwell@gmail.com), except Ian M. Hansen, who is at the School of Law, University of Chicago (email: ihansen@uchicago.edu)). Johnny Harris, Andy Gonzalez and Estela Zuzunaga provided outstanding research assistance. The authors thank Ryan Carlin, Wendy Hunter, and participants in Brigham Young University and Inter-American Development Bank research seminars for their comments on previous versions of this article. We also benefitted from presenting it at the conferences of the Latin American Studies Association and the Midwest Political Science Association. Brigham Young University and its College of Family, Home and Social Sciences provided funding for this project. Data replication sets are available at https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataverse/BJPolS and online appendices at http://dx.doi.org/doi: 10.1017/S0007123416000466.

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