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Information Manipulation, Coordination, and Regime Change

  • Chris Edmond

This paper presents a model of information and political regime change. If enough citizens act against a regime, it is overthrown. Citizens are imperfectly informed about how hard this will be and the regime can, at a cost, engage in propaganda so that at face-value it seems hard. This coordination game with endogenous information manipulation has a unique equilibrium and the paper gives a complete analytic characterization of its comparative statics. If the quantity of information available to citizens is suciently high, then the regime has a better chance of surviving. However, an increase in the reliability of information can reduce the regime's chances. These two effects are always in tension: a regime benefits from an increase in information quantity if and only if an increase in information reliability reduces its chances. The model allows for two kinds of information revolutions. In the first, associated with radio and mass newspapers under the totalitarian regimes of the early twentieth century, an increase in information quantity coincides with a shift towards media institutions more accommodative of the regime and, in this sense, a decrease in information reliability. In this case, both effects help the regime. In the second kind, associated with diffuse technologies like modern social media, an increase in information quantity coincides with a shift towards sources of information less accommodative of the regime and an increase in information reliability. This makes the quantity and reliability effects work against each other. The model predicts that a given percentage increase in information reliability has exactly twice as large an effect on the regime's chances as the same percentage increase in information quantity, so, overall, an information revolution that leads to roughly equal-sized percentage increases in both these characteristics will reduce a regime's chances of surviving.

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Paper provided by The University of Melbourne in its series Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number 1125.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1125
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, The University of Melbourne, 4th Floor, FBE Building, Level 4, 111 Barry Street. Victoria, 3010, Australia
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  1. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521671422 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521855266 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. George-Marios Angeletos & Ivan Werning, 2004. "Crises and Prices: Information Aggregation, Multiplicity and Volatility," NBER Working Papers 11015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2008. "Coalition Formation in Non-Democracies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 987-1009.
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