On the release of information by governments: Causes and consequences
The release of economic and social data by a government provides many benefits to its citizens on a number of different levels. Information has value in itself (for example, to facilitate a more efficient allocation of resources), but it could also perhaps be seen as a signal of the degree of political and institutional transparency. In order to evaluate the potential association between the release of information and the institutional and economic circumstances across countries, a new index is developed that has extensive coverage across countries (175) and time (1960-2000), and is based on the quantity of reported socio-economic data contained in the World Development Indicators and the International Finance Statistics databases. Using a series of Granger-causality regressions, the release of information by governments is shown to have a significant positive effect on the quality of the bureaucracy in the short run and, in the longer term, a significant effect on investment and financial sector development. In terms of reverse causality, the evidence shows that the degree of constraints on the executive branch of government and education both have a positive effect on the quantity of data released by governments.
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