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The Reach of Radio: Defection Messaging and Armed Group Behavior


  • Alex Armand

    () (University of Navarra)

  • Paul Atwell

    () (University of Michigan)

  • Joseph Gomes

    () (University of Navarra)


We study the role of FM radio messaging in discouraging violent conflict by armed groups. Focusing on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), we collected unique information about de- fection messaging by radio stations in the four countries where the LRA has operated (DR Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Uganda). We exploit time and geograph- ical variation, along with random topography-driven variation in radio coverage, to capture the causal effect of the intensity of messaging on violence, and on the LRA’s strategic behav- ior. Higher intensity of defection messages leads to a decrease in violence, measured in both number of events and fatalities. We show that this outcome is mainly explained by an increase in defections among LRA members. In areas with higher intensity of messaging, we observe a strategic shift as the LRA tries to compensate these membership losses by “recruiting” new members through increased abductions, and engaging in higher levels of looting to reward new and existing members.

Suggested Citation

  • Alex Armand & Paul Atwell & Joseph Gomes, 2017. "The Reach of Radio: Defection Messaging and Armed Group Behavior," HiCN Working Papers 249, Households in Conflict Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:hic:wpaper:249

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maja Adena & Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Veronica Santarosa & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2015. "Radio and the Rise of The Nazis in Prewar Germany," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1885-1939.
    2. Maja Adena & Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Veronica Santarosa & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2015. "Radio and the Rise of the Nazis in Prewar Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 5330, CESifo Group Munich.
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    Cited by:

    1. Clarke, Damian, 2019. "A convenient omitted variable bias formula for treatment effect models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 84-88.
    2. Edoardo Chiarotti & Nathalie Monnet, 2019. "Hit them in the Wallet! An Analysis of the Indian Demonetization as a Counter-Insurgency Policy," IHEID Working Papers 03-2019, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.

    More about this item


    Conflict; LRA; Radio; Defection; Mass Media. JEL Classification: D74; N47; D89.;

    JEL classification:

    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • N47 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Africa; Oceania
    • D89 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Other


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