PART I - FACETS OF TRANSPARENCY
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 September 2018
A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.James Madison, The Founders’ Constitution (1822: vol. 1)
Transparency is multifaceted; it encompasses a variety of dimensions and definitions that have distinct determinants and effects. In Part I of this book, we contend that the optimal measure of transparency depends on the theoretical context. Ideally, theoretical models should specify exact forms of information transmission; empirical measures should precisely capture these specific dimensions; and empirical tests of theories should employ these precise measures (while controlling for alternative information transmission mechanisms). Most empirical work in economics and political science, however, has neglected the distinctions we identify, relying instead on proxies for a nebulous conception of “openness” when testing theories of transparency.
Part I investigates different approaches to thinking about transparency. We also offer a new measure of transparency – one that pertains to the public availability of aggregate economic data. After introducing our new measure – the HRV index – we then compare and contrast alternative forms of transparency.
Chapter 2 offers a framework for the conceptualization of various facets of transparency. We focus on the relationship between transparency (information) and political accountability.We therefore direct our attention to the transparency of (1) policy-making, (2) the causal connections between policies and outcomes, and (3) policy outcomes themselves.
In Chapter 3, we describe in detail our original measure, a specific form of transparency that focuses on the disclosure of aggregate economic data. This measure concerns the transparency of policy outcomes. The formal theories presented in subsequent parts of this book rely on a concept of transparency directly related to our measure of data dissemination. The theoretical concept captures the precision with which the public can estimate aggregate outcomes of policy, such as economic growth, unemployment, and inflation.We thus use the HRV index throughout the book as a measure to test our theories empirically. We do not contend that the data-dissemination facet of transparency is always the most appropriate measure. Instead, we provide a framework that suggests which facets of transparency best reflect different theoretical mechanisms pertaining to political accountability.
- Information, Democracy, and AutocracyEconomic Transparency and Political (In)Stability, pp. 29 - 31Publisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 2018