Transparency in crisis : exploring supply and demand for government data in Venezuela
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Publicly accessible government information is necessary for Venezuelan citizens to hold their government accountable, especially as the political, economic, and health crisis worsens. Not only is the implementation of these laws costly, but there is often a perceived lack of citizen demand for transparency that further erodes the political will to carry out transparency initiatives. To facilitate the successful implementation of freedom of information laws in Venezuela, it is necessary to build political will by presenting concrete evidence that citizen demand exists. This study aims to find whether there is a demand for government transparency among Venezuelan citizens by proposing a survey experiment to test the hypothesis that reporting on a candidate’s transparency accomplishments increases their approval rating. The design and theoretical framework of this study were informed by interviews in Caracas, Venezuela with public officials who provide government data and civil society actors who demand it, as well as by a pilot experiment using a student sample from the University of Texas at Austin. When I repeat this experiment in Venezuela, I expect to find that the transparency treatment will have a positive effect on approval ratings. This study will fill a gap in the literature about citizen demand for transparency in non-democratic, developing countries with high levels of government corruption and data opacity.
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