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Title Up for Debate? Using Radio to Reduce Polarization and Increase Democratic Engagement in Niger
Post date 04/12/2019
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale Discussion programs are increasingly common features on radio schedules, and are often produced by actors working to encourage multi-perspective dialogue and improve political engagement in fragile settings. In theory, such programming could capture audience attention through its conflictual, yet inclusive, framing, thereby stimulating engagement. Further, discussion programs might combat polarization, by fostering understanding of alternate viewpoints and demonstrating that political conflicts can be addressed through dialogue. Despite the growing popularity of such programs, evidence about their impact is lacking; evaluations are typically limited to measures of audience size and the public's recognition of programming. This project will seek to identify the impact of two discussion-based programs in Niger--one centered on call-ins and the other on in-studio discussions by experts--through a field experiment utilizing a modified symmetric encouragement design, in which a subset of subjects is regularly incentivized to listen to a call-in program, another subset to an in-studio discussion program broadcast at the same time, and a third group is assigned to a control condition. Subjects' political knowledge, engagement, perceptions of internal efficacy, support for institutions that foster accountability, attitudes towards out-groups, and attitudinal moderation will be measured at a pre-treatment baseline, and again after a six-week encouragement phase. The theorized benefits of discussion programs are especially needed in Niger, which is marked by very low levels of human development; limited public engagement in politics; high levels of ethnic, partisan, and religious polarization; and the territorial presence of violent extremist groups, such as Boko Haram and Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin.
C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested? Exposure to radio-based discussion programs will increase political knowledge, engagement, internal efficacy, and support for institutions of accountability, and will result in greater attitudinal moderation and tolerance of out-groups.
C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? * Measures of outcomes of interest will be collected in a pre-treatment baseline survey, and repeated at a post-treatment endline. Differences-in-differences analyses will be conducted to compare changes in outcomes of interest between treatment categories.
C4 Country Niger
C5 Scale (# of Units) 1400
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 STUDY00001627
C9 Date of IRB Approval 11/12/2018
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Researchers
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