An impact evaluation of information disclosure on elected representatives’ performance: evidence from rural and urban India
3ie Impact Evaluation Report 11, 2014
Voter awareness campaigns can empower citizens to demand more effective political leadership and better public services. The study by Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, Clement Imbert, Rohini Pande, Michael Walton and Bibhu Prasad Mohapatra evaluated the impact of pre-election voter awareness campaigns in gram panchayat elections in Rajasthan and municipal elections in Delhi. A randomised controlled trial measured impact on civic participation, public service provision and elected legislator performance. Field experiments provided verifiable information on candidates’ qualifications and incumbents’ performance.
The awareness campaign weakened the incumbent and widened and changed the pool of candidates in Rajasthan. In Delhi, the councillors reacted by spending more on cleaning of toilets, drains and removal of debris in the slums. The findings suggest that information can play a major role in determining election outcomes and improving public service delivery.