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Turnout in Developing Countries: The Effect of Mass Media on National Voter Participation

Listed author(s):
  • Clémence VERGNE

    ()

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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File URL: http://publi.cerdi.org/ed/2009/2009.29.pdf
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Paper provided by CERDI in its series Working Papers with number 200929.

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Length: 36
Date of creation: 2009
Handle: RePEc:cdi:wpaper:1117
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  1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:93:y:1999:i:02:p:381-398_21 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2002. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1415-1451.
  3. Milligan, Kevin & Moretti, Enrico & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2004. "Does education improve citizenship? Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1667-1695, August.
  4. Lisa Chauvet & Paul Collier, 2009. "Elections and economic policy in developing countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 24, pages 509-550, 07.
  5. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-563, July.
  6. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. "Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-446, March.
  7. Dee, Thomas S., 2004. "Are there civic returns to education?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1697-1720, August.
  8. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
  9. repec:cup:apsrev:v:80:y:1986:i:01:p:17-43_18 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
  11. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
  12. Lisa Chauvet & Paul Collier, 2009. "Elections and economic policy in developing countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 24, pages 509-550, 07.
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