"Press 1 for Roads": Improving Political Communication with New Technology

Co-authored with Saad Gulzar and Luke Sonnet

How politicians and voters communicate with one another grounds democratic accountability. We show that in Pakistan existing face-to-face communication may not be as elite-skewed as is commonly assumed. In a field experiment, we test improving communication with Interactive Voice Response technology, allowing politicians to script and record questions for voters and voters to respond on cell phones. We find that while IVR changes the initiator, scope, content, scale, personalism, and frequency of communication, and politicians and voters exhibit eagerness to engage, politicians do not follow through with changes in policy-relevant behavior and voters' downstream political attitudes and behavior remain unaltered. Read the full paper below.

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