Eat Widely, Vote Wisely? Lessons from a Campaign Against Vote Buying in Uganda

64 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2019

See all articles by Christopher Blattman

Christopher Blattman

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Horacio Larreguy Arbesu

Harvard University

Benjamin Marx

Sciences Po - Department of Economics

Otis Reid

Independent

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 1, 2019

Abstract

We estimate the effects of one of the largest anti-vote-buying campaigns ever studied — with half a million voters exposed across 1427 villages — in Uganda’s 2016 elections. Working with civil society organizations, we designed the study to estimate how voters and candidates responded to their campaign in treatment and spillover villages, and how impacts varied with campaign intensity. Despite its heavy footprint, the campaign did not reduce politician offers of gifts in exchange for votes. However, it had sizable effects on people’s votes. Votes swung from well-funded incumbents (who buy most votes) towards their poorly-financed challengers. We argue the swing arose from changes in village social norms plus the tactical response of candidates. While the campaign struggled to instill norms of refusing gifts, it leveled the electoral playing field by convincing some voters to abandon norms of reciprocity — thus accepting gifts from politicians but voting for their preferred candidate.

Keywords: Elections, Voting Behavior, Field Experiment, Africa

JEL Classification: C93, D72, O55

Suggested Citation

Blattman, Christopher and Larreguy Arbesu, Horacio and Marx, Benjamin and Reid, Otis, Eat Widely, Vote Wisely? Lessons from a Campaign Against Vote Buying in Uganda (July 1, 2019). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2019-114. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3451428 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3451428

Christopher Blattman (Contact Author)

University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Horacio Larreguy Arbesu

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Benjamin Marx

Sciences Po - Department of Economics ( email )

28, rue des Saints peres
Paris, 75007
France

Otis Reid

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
20
Abstract Views
150
PlumX Metrics