Cell Phone Access and Election Fraud: Evidence from a Spatial Regression Discontinuity Design in Afghanistan

68 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2020 Last revised: 21 Apr 2020

See all articles by Robert M Gonzalez

Robert M Gonzalez

University of South Carolina - Moore School of Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 25, 2020

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of cell phone access on election fraud in the context of the 2009 Afghan presidential election. I combine cell phone coverage maps with unique data on the location of polling centers to accurately pinpoint which centers were exposed to coverage during the election. Results from a spatial regression discontinuity design along the two-dimensional coverage boundary provide considerable evidence that access to cell phones deters corrupt behavior. Polling centers just inside coverage areas report a drop in the share of fraudulent votes of about 4 percentage points while the likelihood of a fraudulent station goes down by about 8 percentage points. Analyses of the effect of coverage on citizen participation in election monitoring, election-related insurgent violence, and the tribal composition of villages suggest that the observed declines in fraud are likely attributed to cell phone access strengthening social monitoring capacity. From a policy perspective, these results illustrate how a widespread technology, namely cell phones, can exert a positive externality on institutional development via corruption deterrence.

Keywords: cell phone access, spatial regression discontinuity, social monitoring, election fraud

JEL Classification: P16, P35, P37, D72, D73

Suggested Citation

Gonzalez, Robert M, Cell Phone Access and Election Fraud: Evidence from a Spatial Regression Discontinuity Design in Afghanistan (March 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3561120 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3561120

Robert M Gonzalez (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina - Moore School of Business - Department of Economics

Darla Moore School of Business
1014 Greene Street
Columbia, SC SC 29208
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
48
Abstract Views
315
PlumX Metrics