Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
- Chair: Robert Driskill, Vanderbilt University
Content and Coordination Censorship in Authoritarian Regimes
AbstractThis paper develops a model of political regime change and media censorship. An authoritarian regime can be overthrown if enough citizens join a coup. The citizens don't know the realized quality of the regime but receive correlated signals about it from media outlets. They also use social media to learn about the tactics to be used in an uprising. The regime can engage in censorship activities to reduce the probability of a coup. It might choose to censor media outlets which transmit to the citizens a signal about its quality (content censorship). This will make the regime seem to be of higher quality than it actually is. Alternatively, the regime might close down the channel through which the citizens learn about the protest tactic (coordination censorship). This will make the citizens' coordination harder to sustain. Finally, the regime might adapt both types of censorship, i.e., content censorship and coordination censorship. We characterize equilibrium of this coordination game and provide equilibrium comparative statics. Our results suggest that there is an inverse U-shaped relationship between the regime's type and the adopted censorship type. The more competent the regime, the more likely it will imply either type of censorship up to some point. Then, the less likely it will censor. Moreover, a regime applying coordination censorship is likely to be less competent than a regime applying content censorship.
Social Contagion of Ethnic Hostility
AbstractEthnic hostilities often spread rapidly. This paper investigates the influence of peers on willingness to sacrifice one’s own resources in order to cause harm to others. We implement a novel experimental design, in which we manipulate the identity of a victim as well as the social context, by allowing subjects to observe randomly assigned peers. The results show that the susceptibility to follow destructive peer behavior is great when harm is caused to members of the Roma minority, but small when it impacts co-ethnics. If not exposed to destructive peers, subjects do not discriminate. We observe very similar patterns in a norms elicitation experiment: destructive behavior towards Roma is not generally rated as more socially appropriate than when directed at co-ethnics but norms are more sensitive to social contexts. The findings can help to explain why ethnic hostilities can spread quickly among masses, even in societies with few visible signs of systematic inter-ethnic hatred, and why many societies institute hate crime laws.
Nation-Building in Sub-Saharan Africa and Civil Conflict: Theory and Evidence from Boko Haram and Tuareg Insurgencies
AbstractWhy is civil conflict so costly for development? We argue that civil conflict undermines the legitimacy of the nation-state and empowers traditional sources of authority. In particular, we demonstrate, using recent instances of an insurgency in West Africa, that civil conflict erodes national identities, replacing them by ethnic identities. Based on the existing historical, anthropological, and ethnographic evidence, we model the choice of loyalty (national or ethnic) as a coordination game with strategic complementarities (``global game''). This model allows us to show how the instances of civil conflict can break up that coordination and impede nation-building. We perform several estimation strategies (including difference-in-difference and instrumental variables) to quantify the effect of civil conflict of national identity in three nations: Burkina Faso, Mali, and Nigeria. The identification of the effect comes from using pre-independence data on the location of ethnic homelands of rebellious groups of Tuareg (in case of Burkina Faso and Mali) and Hausa/Fulani (in case of Nigeria). Our key assumption is that the location of those groups in colonial times is independent of the ``potential outcome'': potential changes in national identity between years 2010 and 2012. We explore the plausibility of this assumption using pre-treatment trends, placebo tests, and robustness checks. We also find that our estimates are resilient to the violation of exclusion restrictions (even the violation is large as our most important individual-level predictor of national identity does not revert our findings). Our theory and evidence contribute to the study of state formation and state capacity by exploring the roots of people's self-identification with a state.
Surviving the Killing Fields: The Long-Term Consequences of the Khmer Rouge
AbstractWhat are the lasting effects of atrocities of war? While casualties are often measured in the number of dead and the destruction of capital, a majority of the population is not directly affected. Yet many remain traumatized through indirect exposure to violence, with consequences for their trust in society’s ability to shield its citizens from harm.
We explore evidence from one of history’s worst genocides, the Khmer Rouge regime, to study the causal effect of indirect experience of war on political beliefs, behavior, and trust almost 4 decades later. Toward the end of its reign, the regime killed a large share of the urban population residing in labor camps creating Killing Fields throughout the country. The Cambodian experience allows us to investigate how indirect exposure to war atrocities affected the majority of its citizens as the Killing Fields represent a long-lasting trauma to the nearby rural population.
To identify a causal effect, we rely on the regime’s desire to create an agricultural empire with rice production as the main staple, using the city population as forced labor moved to areas experiencing higher agricultural productivity. Using historic rainfall to generate exogenous variation in rice productivity, shows that fewer people died in less productive communes.
We find that communes with more people killed have a higher turnout in the 2013 elections, favoring the main opposition party. More severe persecutions also increase mistrust today. The lack of trust is not matched by political apathy. These individuals are stronger supporters of political competition and are better informed about legislative procedures.
Taken together, we demonstrate that indirect experience of war breeds persistent and long-lasting mistrust in general and in the state. The Killing Fields serves as a reminder of the atrocities and the repression of a terrifying regime, generating stronger demand for political alternatives to today’s ruling incumbent.
- D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making