The recent emergence of free and fair elections in many developing countries has frequently failed to produce the expected increase in government accountability. Inadequate information among voters is one of the root causes: for voters to discipline leaders at the ballot box, they must have a minimum level of information – both about the candidates for whom they are voting and the democratic system in which they participate. Particularly in developing countries, this information is often lacking. We ask whether a particular kind of information is critically missing among poor voters: information about government capacity. If voters have misinformed beliefs about what government can and should do for them, they will not adequately hold governments accountable. With a large-scale randomized field experiment, our project rigorously addresses the question of whether and how providing information about government capacity affects voters and politicians.
Fearon, J.; Gottlieb, J. Peasants into Democrats? Evaluating the impact of information on local governance in Mali. (2012) 4 pp.