Is Information Power? Using Mobile Phones and Free Newspapers during an Election in Mozambique

Abstract

African elections often reveal low levels of political accountability. We assess different forms of voter education during an election in Mozambique. Three interventions providing information to voters and calling for their participation were randomized: an information campaign using SMS, an SMS hotline for electoral misconduct, and the distribution of a free newspaper. To measure impact, we look at official electoral results, reports by electoral observers, and behavioral and survey data. We find positive effects of all treatments on voter turnout. However, only the distribution of the free newspaper led to more accountability-based participation and to a decrease in electoral problems.
Citation

Aker J.C., Collier P., and Vicente P.C. (2017) "Is Information Power? Using Mobile Phones and Free Newspapers during an Election in Mozambique", Review of Economics and Statistics, vol. 99 (2), pp. 185-200