DP12580 Voting and Peer Effects: Experimental Evidence from Mozambique

Author(s): Marcel Fafchamps, Ana Vaz, Pedro C Vicente
Publication Date: January 2018
Programme Areas: Development Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12580

Voter education campaigns often aim to increase voter participation and political accountability. Randomized interventions were implemented nationwide during the 2009 Mozambican elections using leaflets, text messaging, and a free newspaper. We study the local peer effecs triggered by the campaign. We investigate whether treatment effects are transmitted through social networks and geographical proximity at the village level. For individuals personally targeted by the campaign, we estimate the reinforcement effect of proximity to other individuals in our sample. For untargeted individuals, we estimate how the campaign diffuses as a function of proximity to others in the sample. We find evidence for both effects, similar across treatments and proximity measures. The campaign raises the level of interest in the election through networks, in line with the average treatment effect. However, we find a negative network effect of the treatment on voter participation, implying that the positive effect of treatment on more central individuals is smaller. We interpret this result as consistent with free-riding through pivotal reasoning and we provide additional evidence to support this claim.