Political violence and social networks: Experimental evidence from a Nigerian election
Voter education campaigns often aim to increase political participation and accountability. We followed a randomized campaign against electoral violence sponsored by an international NGO during the 2007 Nigerian elections. This paper investigates whether the effects of the campaign were transmitted indirectly through kinship, chatting, and geographical proximity. For individuals personally targeted by campaigners, we estimate the reinforcement effect of proximity to other targeted individuals. For individuals who self-report to be untargeted by campaigners, we estimate the diffusion of the campaign depending on proximity to targeted individuals. We find evidence for both effects, particularly on perceptions of violence. Effects are large in magnitude — often similar to the average effect of the campaign. Kinship is the strongest channel of reinforcement and diffusion. We also find that geographical proximity transmits simple effects on perceptions, and that chatting conveys more complex effects on behavior.
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