"I would like u WMP to extend electricity 2 our village": On Information Technology and Interest Articulation

Citation:
Grossman, G, Humphreys M, Sacramone-Lutz G.  2014.  "I would like u WMP to extend electricity 2 our village": On Information Technology and Interest Articulation. American Political Science Review. 108(3):688-705.

Abstract:

How does access to information communication technology (ICT) affect who gets heard and what gets communicated to politicians? On one hand ICT can lower communication costs; on the other hand more technological channels may be used disproportionately by the already well connected. To address this question we presented a representative sample of constituents in Uganda with an opportunity to send a text-message to their representatives at one of three randomly assigned prices. Critically, and contrary to concerns that technological innovations benefit the privileged, we find evidence that ICT can lead to significant flattening: a greater share of marginalized populations use this channel compared to existing political communication channels. Price plays a more complex role. Subsidizing the full cost of messaging increases uptake by over 40%. Surprisingly however, subsidy-induced increases in uptake do not yield further flattening since free channels are not used at higher rates by more marginalized constituents.

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