Item Details

Replication Data for: Legislative Transparency and Credit Risk

Harden, Jeffrey J.; Kirkland, Justin H.; Shea, Patrick E.
Computer Resource; Online; Dataset
Harden, Jeffrey J.
Kirkland, Justin H.
Shea, Patrick E.
Open governance requirements are designed to improve accountability, which implies that transparent governments are more trustworthy stewards of their publicly-invested power. However, transparency may also reduce institutional effectiveness and inhibit political compromise, diminishing the capacity to manage resources responsibly. We assess empirical support for these competing perspectives in the context of American state legislatures, many of whom have become exempt from state sunshine laws in recent decades. We leverage variation in the timing of these legislative exemptions to identify the effect of removing transparency in a crucial governing institution on investors' risk perceptions of states' general obligation bonds. Our analysis of these data during the period 1995-2010 suggests that removing legislative transparency reduces state credit risk. We conclude that while openness in government may be normatively desirable, shielding legislative proceedings from public view may actually be better for states' debt repayment capacity, improving their overall fiscal health.
Date Received
University of Virginia, 2019
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