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Voting and Peer Effects:
Experimental Evidence from Mozambique

NOVAFRICA working paper series
Marcel Fafchamps

University of Oxford

Ana Vaz

University of Oxford

Pedro C. Vicente

Nova School of Business and Economics

ISSN 2183-0843
Working Paper No 1303
September 2013

Abstract

Voter education campaigns often aim to increase voter participation and political accountability. We follow randomized interventions implemented nationwide during the 2009 Mozambican elections using a free newspaper, leaflets and text messaging. We investigate whether treatment effects were transmitted through social networks (kinship and chatting) and geographical proximity. For individuals personally targeted by the campaign, we estimate the reinforcement effect of proximity to other targeted individuals. For untargeted individuals, we estimate the diffusion of the campaign depending on proximity to targeted individuals. We find evidence for both effects, similar across the different treatments and across the different connectedness measures. We observe that the treatments worked through networks by raising the levels of information and interest about the election, in line with the average treatment effects. However, differently from those average effects, we find negative network effects of voter education on voter participation. We interpret this result as a free riding effect, likely to occur for costly actions.

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