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Crossing Party Lines: The Effects of Information on Redistributive Politics

Feb 2015
Working Paper
Katherine Casey
Many lament that weak accountability and poor governance impede economic development in Africa. Politicians rely on ethnic allegiances that deliver the vote irrespective of performance, dampening electoral incentives. Giving voters information about candidate competence counters ethnic loyalty and strengthens accountability. I extend a canonical electoral model to show how information provision ‡ows through voter behavior and ultimately impacts the distribution of political spending. I test the theory on data from Sierra Leone using decentralization and differential radio coverage to identify information’s effects. Estimates suggest that information increases voting across ethnic-party lines and induces a more equitable allocation of campaign spending.
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