A model of public opinion management
Research output: Contribution to journal › Journal article › Research › peer-review
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.
|Journal of Public Economics
|Published - 2015
JEL classification: D73; H11; H56