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Do people hold politicians accountable for the performance of government? I test this question using individual-level experiences with the performance of one major public service: transportation. I compile records of transit performance, tracked via individuals' fare transactions and train delays, and link these data to opinion surveys. I show that people perceive different levels of performance, but fail to connect performance with judgments of government. I build on this by testing the importance of responsibility attribution on people's ability to hold government accountable. I find that when people are experimentally provided with information on government responsibilities, they are able to connect their experiences of performance with their opinions of government. These results demonstrate that confusion about government responsibilities can frustrate accountability.


de Benedictis-Kessner, Justin. "How Attribution Inhibits Accountability: Evidence from Train Delays." The Journal of Politics 80.4 (October 2018): 1417-1422.