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Title How do invitations to politics flatten participation?
Post date 08/13/2015
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale Many studies have shown that women engage in political communication at lower rates than men, especially in the context of developing countries. However, Grossman, Humphreys, and Sacramone-Lutz (2014) recently argued that women may however be relatively more responsive to engaging in politics using decentralized SMS-based technology. New technology, in short, can have a flattening effect. This result was generated using a field experiment in Uganda, in which a random sample of individuals were personally invited by enumerators to send messages to politicians via an SMS platform. Take-up rates in that experiment were between 4--6%. A later intervention by the National Democratic Institute, in coordination with the Parliament of Uganda, designed and launched a platform enabling voters nationwide to communicate with politicians. In that intervention, voters were invited using 30 second long radio spots (ads), and not personally. Overall take up rates were much lower and men engaged at much higher rates than women, reflecting more traditional patterns of political communication. The differences between these results are large and striking. Moreover they cannot easily be accounted for by some prominent accounts of differential participation such as different access to resources. One plausible explanation consistent with past work is that women and men respond differentially to a personal invitation to engage in politics. A direct personal invitation may itself have an empowering effect, signaling receptiveness and the possibility that political communication will make a difference. Specifically, an invitation to participate in politics may have a large marginal effect for marginalized populations, such as women and poor, who have lower political efficacy to begin with. To assess the flattening effect of invitations to politics we will exploit an existing SMS platform, UBridge, developed in partnership between UNICEF's Ureport platform and Uganda's Governance, Accountability, Participation and Performance GAPP project and operative in Arua district, Uganda. Using the platform we provide strong encouragements to take part in a poll on tax policy to a random subsample of participants and assess differential takeup rates.
C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested? We expect that the marginal effect of treatment (i.e. receiving the suite of SMS messages) will be stronger for women than for men.
C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? * There will be $4,568$ subjects of which half will be in treatment and half in control. The primary analysis focuses on a subset of $2,720$ of these that have been recently verified as active in the SMS system. Formal tests use the interaction term between gender and treatment from an OLS regression with block fixed effects.
C4 Country
C5 Scale (# of Units) not provided by authors
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? Yes
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? Yes
C8 IRB Number not provided by authors
C9 Date of IRB Approval not provided by authors
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? UBridge
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? Yes
C13 JEL Classification(s) not provided by authors