Bureaucratic Quality and Electoral Accountability

T. A.R.A. Slough

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In many theories of electoral accountability, voters learn about an incumbent's quality by observing public goods outcomes. But empirical findings are mixed, suggesting that increasing the visibility of these outcomes only sometimes improves accountability. I reconcile these heterogeneous findings by highlighting bureaucrats' role in the production of public goods. In a simple model of electoral accountability involving a voter, a politician, and a bureaucrat, I show that accountability relationships yield distinct empirical implications at different levels of bureaucratic quality. To illustrate how this model rationalizes otherwise mixed or heterogeneous results, I develop a new research design - a theoretically structured meta-study - to synthesize existing findings. Meta-study evidence on the accountability of Brazilian mayors suggests that a common model of electoral accountability that allows for variation in bureaucratic quality predicts observed heterogeneity in politician and voter behavior and beliefs across multiple studies with distinct samples, treatments, and outcomes.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalAmerican Political Science Review
    StateAccepted/In press - 2024

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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