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Eat Widely, Vote Wisely ? Lessons from a Campaign Against Vote Buying in Uganda

Author

Listed:
  • Christopher Blattman

    (University of Chicago, NBER - National Bureau of Economic Research [New York] - NBER - The National Bureau of Economic Research)

  • Horacio Larreguy

    (Harvard University [Cambridge])

  • Benjamin Marx

    (ECON - Département d'économie (Sciences Po) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Otis R Reid

    (MIT - Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Abstract

We estimate the effects of one of the largest anti-vote-buying campaigns ever studied — with half a million voters exposed across 1427 villages—in Uganda's 2016 elections. Working with civil society organizations, we designed the study to estimate how voters and candidates responded to their campaign in treatment and spillover villages, and how impacts varied with campaign intensity. Despite its heavy footprint, the campaign did not reduce politician offers of gifts in exchange for votes. However, it had sizable effects on people's votes. Votes swung from well-funded incumbents (who buy most votes) towards their poorly-financed challengers. We argue the swing arose from changes in village social norms plus the tactical response of candidates. While the campaign struggled to instill norms of refusing gifts, it leveled the electoral playing field by convincing some voters to abandon norms of reciprocity—thus accepting gifts from politicians but voting for their preferred candidate.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher Blattman & Horacio Larreguy & Benjamin Marx & Otis R Reid, 2019. "Eat Widely, Vote Wisely ? Lessons from a Campaign Against Vote Buying in Uganda," SciencePo Working papers Main hal-03873791, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:spmain:hal-03873791
    DOI: 10.3386/w26293
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal-sciencespo.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03873791
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Raúl Duarte & Frederico Finan & Horacio Larreguy & Laura Schechter, 2019. "Brokering Votes With Information Spread Via Social Networks," NBER Working Papers 26241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Leopoldo Fergusson & Horacio Larreguy & Juan Felipe Riaño, 2022. "Political Competition and State Capacity: Evidence from a Land Allocation Program in Mexico [‘Politics and economics in weak and strong states’]," The Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 132(648), pages 2815-2834.
    3. Simon Haenni & Guilherme Lichand, 2020. "Harming to signal: child marriage vs. public donations in Malawi," ECON - Working Papers 348, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    4. Jeremy Bowles & Horacio Larreguy & Shelley Liu, 2020. "How Weakly Institutionalized Parties Monitor Brokers in Developing Democracies: Evidence from Postconflict Liberia," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 64(4), pages 952-967, October.
    5. Larreguy, Horacio & Bowles, Jeremy, 2020. "Who Debates, Who Wins? At-Scale Experimental Evidence on the Supply of Policy Information in a Liberian Election," IAST Working Papers 20-112, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    6. Gallego, Jorge & Guardado, Jenny & Wantchekon, Leonard, 2023. "Do gifts buy votes? Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 162(C).
    7. Jeremy Bowles & Horacio Larreguy, 2019. "Who Debates, Who Wins? At-Scale Experimental Evidence on Debate Participation in a Liberian Election," CID Working Papers 375, Center for International Development at Harvard University.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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