Testing Legislator Responsiveness in Single-Party Regimes: A Field Experiment in Vietnam with Possible Lessons for China

Edmund Malesky, Professor of Political Science, Duke University

12:00pm | 2nd Floor Forum, Perelman Building, 133 S. 36th St.

This research aims to establish whether targeted provision of constituent preferences increases the responsiveness of delegates to the Vietnamese National Assembly (VNA). Utilizing a randomized control trial (RCT), we assign legislators to one of three groups: (1) those briefed on the opinions of citizens within their province; (2) those presented with the preferences of local firms; and (3) those receiving no informational treatment whatsoever. We also included a saturation design, where different shares of delegates in each provincial constituency were treated. After the summer 2018 session, we collected behavioral data on delegates from the legislative session, including answers to a VNA Library survey about debate preparation; willingness to speak in group caucuses, query sessions, and floor debates; and the textual content of those speeches. We find evidence of delegate responsiveness on preparation and willingness to speak, but mixed evidence that our briefing influenced the content of their speeches. More speculatively, we find very little evidence of spillover from treatment to control delegates, but substantial evidence of treatment reinforcement. Treated delegates were more likely to behave responsively when interacting with delegates who possessed the same constituency information.

Co-sponsored by the Comparative Politics Workshop.