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

Robert Gonzalez ()

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2021, vol. 13, issue 2, 1-51

Abstract: This paper examines the impact of cell phone access on election fraud. I combine cell phone coverage maps with the location of polling centers during the 2009 Afghan presidential election to pinpoint which centers were exposed to coverage. Results from a spatial regression discontinuity design along the two-dimensional coverage boundary suggest that coverage deters corrupt behavior. Polling centers just inside coverage report a drop in the share of fraudulent votes of 4 percentage points, while the likelihood of a fraudulent station decreases by 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.

JEL-codes: D72 K16 K42 O17 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1257/app.20190443

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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics is currently edited by Alexandre Mas

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