A model of public opinion management

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Volume 128
Pages (from-to)73-83
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

JEL classification: D73; H11; H56

ID: 144779723