Irregular Transparency? An Experiment Involving Mexico’s Freedom of Information Law


Paul Lagunes

Freedom of information laws empower the interested parties to access all documents held by the government with only a few and stated exceptions. The question is: do governments guarantee equal information provision regardless of people’s power and status? I executed a randomized experiment to investigate the effect of income and political connections on the provision of government information. Two hundred and forty one information requests were sent to the Mexican federal government. A regular male civilian with a very common last name sent half. The second half were sent by a male that signaled having wealth and political connections. Overall, the results show that the average citizen received a very similar treatment compared to the citizen that signaled wealth and political connections. The study did uncover some differential treatment based on status. The wealthy and politically connected citizen seemed to be promised more information and, therefore, a better service.
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