Dangerously Informed: Protestant Missions, Information, and Pre-Electoral Violence in Sub-Saharan Africa
The literature on information and accountability has largely focused on voters, ignoring how voter characteristics affect the behavior of politicians. We address this gap by examining how politicians react to more informed voters in developing countries. Since more informed voters are harder to woo through campaign promises, ethnic cues, and vote buying, badly performing politicians have incentives to deter them from voting through intimidation. Using an instrumental variable approach based on historical maps of Christian missions and survey, as well as conflict event data for 18 sub-Saharan African countries, we first show that individuals with a higher density of Protestant missions nearby are significantly more likely to get their information from relatively free and independent newspapers, and differ in political knowledge, attitudes, and behavior from non-readers. We then demonstrate that newspaper readers are more likely to fear and experience pre-electoral violence, and are subsequently less likely to vote.