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(Mis-)information technology: Internet use and perception of democracy in Africa

Joël Cariolle, Yasmine Elkhateeb and Mathilde Maurel

Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne from Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne

Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of internet use as a means of accessing news on African citizens' demand for and perception of the supply of democracy. This question is addressed using cross-sectional data from the last three rounds of the Afrobarometer survey for a sample of 25 African countries between 2011 and 2018. Using an instrumental variable approach to control for the possible endogeneity bias between internet use and citizens'perceptions, we found that using the internet to get news has a negative and significant effect on the demand for and on the perceived supply of democracy. The negative effect is channeled through two main factors. The first factor is the confidence in governments and governmental institutions, which is undermined by the use of the internet. In particular, we find that this internet-induced lower confidence translates into a higher probability of engaging in street protests instead of increased political participation. The second driving factor is the (mis-)information channel. On the one hand, we show that internet users' perception of the supply of democracy negatively diverges from experts' ratings. On the other hand, we document further that internet use increases the likelihood of incoherence in the respondent's stance about her demand for democracy. Finally, we show that the negative effect we found is mitigated when the internet is complemented by traditional media sources, especially the radio, to get informed. The findings of this study suggest that internet use is not neutral and tends to undermine citizens' preferences for democracy and alter perceptions about the functioning of political institutions

Keywords: Internet news; democracy; Africa (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D83 L86 P16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 68 pages
Date: 2022-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-dev, nep-ict, nep-pay and nep-pol
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Downloads: (external link)
http://mse.univ-paris1.fr/pub/mse/CES2022/22010.pdf (application/pdf)
https://shs.hal.science/halshs-03628023

Related works:
Working Paper: (Mis-)information technology: Internet use and perception of democracy in Africa (2023) Downloads
Working Paper: (Mis-)information technology: Internet use and perception of democracy in Africa (2023) Downloads
Working Paper: (Mis-)information technology: Internet use and perception of democracy in Africa (2022) Downloads
Working Paper: (Mis-)information technology: Internet use and perception of democracy in Africa (2022) Downloads
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