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A model of public opinion management

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  • Patacconi, Andrea
  • Vikander, Nick

Abstract

Policymakers often motivate their decisions using information collected by government agencies. While more information can help hold the government to account, it may also give policymakers an incentive to meddle with the work of bureaucrats. This paper develops a model of biased information gathering to examine how different disclosure rules and the degree of independence of government agencies affect citizen welfare. Disclosure rules and agency independence interact in subtle ways. We find that secrecy is never optimal and yet insulating the agency from political pressure, so that its information is always unbiased, may also not be socially optimal. A biased information-gathering process can benefit the government by helping it to shape public opinion. But it can also benefit the public, by curbing the government's tendency to implement its ex ante favored policy, thus mitigating the agency conflict between policymakers and the public.

Suggested Citation

  • Patacconi, Andrea & Vikander, Nick, 2015. "A model of public opinion management," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 73-83.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:128:y:2015:i:c:p:73-83
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2015.05.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Transparency; Accountability; Independence; Manipulation of information;

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War

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