How Attribution Inhibits Accountability: Evidence from Train Delays

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Authors Justin de Benedictis-Kessner
Journal/Conference Name THE JOURNAL OF POLITICS
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Do people hold politicians accountable for the performance of government? I test this question using individual-level experiences with the performance of one major public service: transportation. I compile records of transit performance, tracked via individuals’ fare transactions and train delays, and link these data to opinion surveys. I show that people perceive different levels of performance but fail to connect performance with judgments of government. I build on this by testing the importance of responsibility attribution on people’s ability to hold government accountable. I find that when people are experimentally provided with information on government responsibilities, they are able to connect their experiences of performance with their opinions of government. These results demonstrate that confusion about government responsibilities can frustrate accountability.
Date of publication 2018
Code Programming Language R
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