DP12580 Voting and Peer Effects: Experimental Evidence from Mozambique
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.