Theses Doctoral

How Revenue and Information Shape Citizen Political Behavior

Paler, Laura

Many developing countries exhibit deficits in governance, including corruption, rent-seeking, the suboptimal provision of public goods, and weak accountability. This dissertation uncovers the micro-foundations of political failure by evaluating how government revenue windfalls and information asymmetries affect the will or ability of citizens to curb rent-seeking and hold politicians accountable. The first chapter provides one of the first causal, micro-level tests of the prominent claim that windfalls lower demand for good governance in comparison to taxation. It also sheds light on the relationship between revenue and information by examining whether windfalls and taxes produce differences in how citizens become politically informed. The second chapter turns attention to the role of information and examines how new information on government spending affects citizen political participation and incumbent support. The final chapter analyzes whether windfalls induce citizen groups to engage in rent-seeking behavior to appropriate wealth in more divided societies. To identify causal effects at the individual level, I employ experimental and quasi-experimental research designs and original survey and behavioral data from two separate, large-scale field projects conducted in Indonesia. Overall, the dissertation deepens understanding of the causes of political failure by examining not only whether windfalls and information asymmetries have adverse effects on citizen political behavior but also when and why.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Political Science
Thesis Advisors
Humphreys, Macartan N.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 1, 2014