Wednesday, November 9, 2016
4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
McKinney Conference Room
Politicians regularly underperform in their job duties due to the obscurity of their actions to constituents, long periods of time between elections, and lack of electoral pressure from competing parties. In this study, we investigate the effect of a local NGO's initiative to improve transparency of politicians' actions in a multi-year field experiment involving 406 politicians across 20 Ugandan district governments between the 2011 and 2016 elections. The NGO created yearly politician performance `scorecards' in legally-defined job duties presented to all politicians in district plenary session meetings. For randomly-selected politicians, the scorecard was disseminated to constituents. We find that scorecard dissemination improves politicians' subsequent performance in each post-treatment year of the electoral term, but only in competitive constituencies. These findings suggest that performance transparency and electoral pressure can, jointly, improve politician performance between elections.
Guy Grossman is an assistant professor in the political science department at the University of Pennsylvania.