Autor: Streb Jorge M.(*), Otálvaro-Ramírez Susana(**), Scartascini Carlos(**)
Institución: (*)UCEMA, (**)Inter-American Development Bank
JEL: D0, D7, D8, H4
"Providing information is a well-known tool to increase trust and empower citizens. To understand how citizens react to transparency initiatives, we conducted a randomized survey experiment in the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the government made a set of post-electoral promises. We interpret this initiative as a signal that an incumbent politician is willing to send to complement the information already provided by visible government performance. Our results show that post-electoral promises matter for shaping citizens’ perceptions about trustworthiness of the government. The content of the information also matters: a treatment showing that the government was fulfilling its promises had more impact than a treatment that only showed that the government had made the promises, but the differences are not statistically significant. We find strong heterogeneity in how citizens process this information. One group, not familiar with the policy and with the lowest trust priors, was impervious to treatment: they seem to react to deeds, not words. The rest are more alike and can be broken down into those vaguely familiar with the promises, with intermediate trust priors, and those familiar with the promises, with the highest trust priors. The treatment effects are entirely through the middle group, and they close the gap in trust with the group familiar with the promises. More generally, our study suggests that transparency initiatives may be an effective signal in a setting with high trust priors, but their informational value is more limited than visible public good provision."