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4 - Comparing Measures of Transparency

from PART I - FACETS OF TRANSPARENCY

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2018

James R. Hollyer
Affiliation:
University of Minnesota
B. Peter Rosendorff
Affiliation:
New York University
James Raymond Vreeland
Affiliation:
Princeton University, New Jersey
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Summary

The HRV index represents a new measure of data dissemination. But do we really need another measure of transparency? Other measures of different facets of transparency also exist. If different cross-national measures of transparency were highly enough correlated, then the theoretical distinctions presented in Chapters 2 and 3 would be moot. All indexes would serve as equally strong proxies for the availability of information in a polity. Moreover, it would be nearly impossible to use such indexes in empirical tests to discriminate across precise causal mechanisms. Before proceeding to our original theories about transparency and political stability – and testing them with the HRV index – we must pose a question: How do the various measures of transparency – institutional, media freedom, and data dissemination – correlate with each other?

In this chapter,we study the relationships between various measures of transparency. First, we examine the extent to which measures of these facets covary. We then undertake a more systematic comparison between data dissemination and each alternative measure of transparency in turn. We find substantively important distinctions across the measures. The results of our analysis confirm that the appropriate measure of transparency depends on the theoretical context.

THE COVARIANCE OF FACETS OF TRANSPARENCY

Table 4.1 presents a correlation matrix of measures of five different aspects of transparency. To measure the dissemination of aggregate economic data, we use the HRV index.

As a measure of institutional transparency, we use a variable capturing the presence of a freedom of information law (FOIL). Our measure of FOILs is drawn from Berliner (2014), who codes the year in which FOILs go into effect in a cross-section of countries from 1990 to 2008. We recode these data into a binary indicator ﹛0, 1﹜ that takes the value of 1 if a given country has an effective FOIL in a given year.

As measures of the role media plays in promoting transparency, we begin with two variables. First we include a measure of press freedoms as captured by Freedom House's Freedom of the Press index.We scale this index such that 100 indicates the highest possible level of freedom and 0 represents the lowest. This data series runs from 1994 to 2010.

Type
Chapter
Information
Information, Democracy, and Autocracy
Economic Transparency and Political (In)Stability
, pp. 75 - 88
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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