Transparency and System Support in Peru
Sep 1, 2015
Darren Hawkins, Lucas Brook, Ian Hansen, Neal Hoopes, Taylor Rawson
Hawkins, Darren, Lucas Brook, Ian Hansen, Neal Hoopes, Taylor Rawson. 2015. Transparency and System Support in Peru. AidData Working Paper #14. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.
Update: A revised version of this paper has been published in the British Journal of Political Science.
Powerful international actors have vigorously promoted transparency for developing countries, yet we know little about the actual effects of transparency. In this paper, we use a series of survey experiments conducted on the streets of Lima, Peru to investigate a fairly simple question: what are the effects of government transparency on attitudes regarding support for the Peruvian political system? Like many developing countries, Peru lacks much system support, making it more difficult to improve governance and democracy. We find that transparency has little impact on political attitudes, unless accompanied by either one of two conditions: the information is attributed to a credible third-party (in our case, USAID), or the information provides a frame in which the government is associate with comparative socioeconomic wellbeing. Under those conditions, Peruvians increase their approval of the national political community, the regime’s performance, regime institutions, and local government. The increases are substantively large, ranging between 6 to 11 points on our 100-point scales, or about half of a standard deviation of the variation in the control groups.