University of Chicago Press
Journal of Politics
When citizens ask questions, how does their government answer? Requests for government information confront officials with incentives both for and against disclosure. We argue that officials seek to manage political risks in ways that favor requests from government-aligned regions. We study responsiveness in the context of Mexico’s access-to-information law, using publicly available data from several hundred thousand information requests filed with Mexican federal government agencies between 2003 and 2015. Our empirical strategy makes comparisons only among requests sent to similar agencies on similar topics at similar times, while accounting for the complexity, sophistication, and sensitivity of individual requests. We find that requests filed from locales with higher governing-party vote shares receive more favorable responses, across multiple indicators of the nature and timing of responses. Further, we find bias only for requests on publicly relevant topics, providing evidence in favor of a mechanism of mitigating political risks over one of rewarding supporters with greater access to benefits.
Berliner, Daniel; Bagozzi, Benjamin E.; Palmer-Rubin, Brian; and Erlich, Aaron, "The Political Logic of Government Disclosure: Evidence from Information Requests in Mexico" (2021). Political Science Faculty Research and Publications. 101.
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