Turnout in Developing Countries: The Effect of Mass Media on National Voter Participation
Previous research on electoral participation has paid little attention to turnout in developing countries. Even more understudied is the effect of mass media, as the main source of political information, on voter turnout in new democracies. This paper argues that voter turnout patterns in developing countries can be explained by extending the traditional rational voter model to include recent developments of the information theory of turnout. Embedding limited information, our theoretical framework suggests that media access and freedom affect turnout. We test our predictions in a sample of 60 developing countries over the period 1980-2005. We find that media penetration, as measured by radio ownership, fosters turnout, whereas newspapers circulation and television ownership are not significant. In addition, we show that when government controls the content of news, citizens are less prone to express their views at the polls. Finally, we highlight specific factors -political violence and external debt- hat affect turnout in developing countries.
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