Publication details

Does Freedom of Information Law Increase Accountability at the Local Level? Evidence from a Field Experiment

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Year of publication 2016
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
Description Transparency is an important value in modern democracy. However the need of citizens for information and willingness of public authorities to provide them does not always match. To overcome this tension a rising number of countries adopted Freedom of Information (FOI) laws that should enhance the accountability of state institutions towards their citizens. The main dilemma of our paper is whether these laws truly work and assist citizens in their demand for information. To test this we a ran field experiment, where we randomly sent three different types of mails (one baseline, one with moral-appeal and one quoting the FOI law) to all 2,926 Slovak municipalities. In these mails we requested for information about local elections that was not accessible by any other way and that we intend to use in further research. We found that mentioning of FOI substantially increased the response rate while the moral appeal had no effect at all. Apart from this a higher willingness to provide information was found for more populated municipalities and also for towns led by mayors with diffused partisan support or independents.
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