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Information and accountability: Evidence from Brazil.

Goncalves, Sonia (2010) Information and accountability: Evidence from Brazil. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis studies the role of information on the promotion of political accountability using empirical analysis of data from Brazil. The first chapter investigates whether the use of participatory budgeting (an alternative budgetary process that gives citizens the ability to interact with the elected politicians in the drafting of the local budget) in Brazilian municipalities has affected the pattern of public expenditures and had any impact on living conditions. By analysing a panel of Brazilian municipalities between 1990 and 2004 I show that the municipalities that used this participatory mechanism favoured an allocation of expenditures that closely matched the "popular preferences", channelling a larger fraction of their budgets to key investments in sanitation and health services, and registered a pronounced reduction in the infant mortality rates. The second chapter analyses the impact of an Internet-based information dissemination campaign about political candidates' criminal records launched in Brazil in 2006 on that same year's election results. Using difference-in-difference estimates around the information release date, I find that politicians with criminal records register a significantly worse electoral performance once that information is revealed to the electorate through the Internet campaign. This suggests that voters do value and make use of information that allows them to distinguish the "crooks" from the law-abiding politicians at the time of the election. The third chapter complements this analysis by investigating the effects of the information campaign on the elected politicians' detected criminal behaviour. By inspecting the lawsuits brought against Brazilian politicians in two different terms, before and after the Internet campaign, I find suggestive evidence of the existence of both selection and discipline effects of the information campaign on the politicians' criminal propensity and behaviour. Greater access to information seems to enhance accountability by improving the selection of politicians and by disciplining their behaviour while in office.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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