Assistant Professor at the Bush School of Government & Public Service
Texas A&M University
Senior Fellow and Director of Rethinking US Development Policy
Center for Global Development
The recent emergence of free and fair elections in many developing countries has frequently failed to produce the expected increase in government accountability. For voters to discipline leaders at the ballot box, they must have a minimum level of information, both about the candidates for whom they are voting and the democratic system in which they are participating. The relationship between voter information and political behavior is poorly understood, particularly in young democracies where voters have little understanding about what politicians can and should do for them.
Jessica Gottlieb presented findings from two recent civic education studies in rural Mali. The first study examines how civic education affects voters’ scrutiny of politicians’ performance as well as their overall political participation. The second study documents the impact on gender dynamics and the participation of women. These field experiments suggest both promise and caution for governments and donor organizations interested in increasing voter access to political information as a means to improving government accountability.