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Can Transparency Improve Preferences and Norms in the Public Sector?

Leadership Team:

  • James Habyarimana, Stuti Khemani, Claudio Ferraz, & USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance

Countries:

  • Uganda

Research Themes:

Institution Types:

Project summary

Issue: 

Political norms and citizen preferences could be key enablers of the poor quality of public services in developing countries. Politicians may, for example, deprioritize public service delivery improvements because citizens prefer elected officials that offer them private benefits, including government jobs or cash transfers, rather than allocate resources to motivate or discipline state employees responsible for improvements in public education or health systems.

Questions: 

  • In settings where preferences and norms favor private benefits over public goods, could a transparency intervention increase demand for quality public education?
  • Could such a public information and deliberation intervention, by targeting underlying political norms of citizens and the leaders with power over frontline service providers, drive improvements in the quality of public services?

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