The Reach of Radio: Ending Civil Conflict through Rebel Demobilization
Joseph F. Gomes
- American Economic Review (Forthcoming)
We examine the role of FM radio in mitigating violent conflict. We collect original data
on radio broadcasts encouraging defections during the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency.
This constitutes the first quantitative evaluation of an active counterinsurgency
policy that encourages defections through radio messages. Exploiting random topographydriven
variation in radio coverage along with panel variation at the grid-cell level we identify
the causal effect of messaging on violence. Broadcasting defection messages increases defections
and reduces fatalities, violence against civilians, and clashes with security forces.
Income shocks have opposing effects on both the conflict and the effectiveness of messaging.
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