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Diminishing the Effect of Vote-buying on Electoral Outcomes in India: A Pilot RCT to Test the Effectiveness of Radio Messages
Last registered on December 18, 2015

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Diminishing the Effect of Vote-buying on Electoral Outcomes in India: A Pilot RCT to Test the Effectiveness of Radio Messages
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000377
Initial registration date
May 14, 2014
Last updated
December 18, 2015 12:35 AM EST
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Wisconsin Madison
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Columbia University
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2014-04-03
End date
2014-08-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This study assesses the effects of radio spots designed to discourage vote-buying and vote-selling in the context of the 2014 Indian national elections. Medium-wattage radio stations were randomly assigned to treatment and control conditions, with treatment stations airing a series of three vignettes that satirize and discourage vote-buying. Outcomes include total votes cast, especially for candidates that according to local journalists and/or the Electoral Commission, are suspected of large-scale vote-buying.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Green, Donald and Srinivasan Vasudevan. 2015. "Diminishing the Effect of Vote-buying on Electoral Outcomes in India: A Pilot RCT to Test the Effectiveness of Radio Messages." AEA RCT Registry. December 18. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.377-2.0
Former Citation
Green, Donald and Srinivasan Vasudevan. 2015. "Diminishing the Effect of Vote-buying on Electoral Outcomes in India: A Pilot RCT to Test the Effectiveness of Radio Messages." AEA RCT Registry. December 18. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/377/history/6404
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Vote-buying is a widespread practice in developing countries that may undermine the accountability and responsiveness of elected officials, especially to the needs of the poor. Vote-buying may derive its effectiveness in influencing voter behavior by appealing to internalized norms of reciprocity, conveying information about candidates or because of lack of faith in the secret ballot. One way to reduce the incidence of vote-buying is by diminishing its effectiveness in influencing electoral outcomes. We designed and deployed a radio campaign during the April-May 2014 general election period in India.
Intervention Start Date
2014-04-08
Intervention End Date
2014-05-07
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The outcome of primary interest in this study is the effect of the treatment on the vote-share of candidates, particular vote-buying candidates. The other outcome of interest is the effect of the treatment on voter turnout, particularly in constituencies with high levels of vote-buying. In order to improve the precision with which the average treatment effects are estimated, we will present both the unadjusted difference-in-means estimate of each average treatment effect as well as a regression-adjusted estimate using lagged outcome variables (i.e., vote-share or voter turnout in the previous (2009) general election, respectively) as covariates.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Since vote-buying cannot be observed directly, we use different proxies for vote-buying by candidates and for aggregate levels of vote-buying in constituencies. This is described is detail in the pre-analysis plan.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We randomly assigned 30 radio stations from a list of 60 to receive an anti-vote buying radio campaign. We interviewed local journalists on aspects of campaigning and vote-buying in constituencies they cover. We attempted to conduct all the interviews before the radio campaign started and did not, during the course of the interviews, reveal any information about the intervention. We aimed to get responses from two journalists for each constituency. Since vote-buying cannot be observed directly, we use different proxies for vote-buying by candidates and for aggregate levels of vote-buying in constituencies.
Experimental Design Details
The radio stations range in power between 1 KW and 20 KW, with 40 radio stations of 6 KW power. Of the 60 stations, 50 are FM and 10 are AM stations. The expected radii of the coverage areas lie between 50 km and 125 km. The coverage areas of the radio stations contain parts of different constituencies (“segments”). This constituency segment is the level of analysis in this study. We divided the 60 radio stations into 5 blocks based on the expected day of election in that region. Half of the radio stations in each block were randomly assigned to receive the radio campaign (“treatment” group), and the other half were to not receive it (“control” group). Thus, the probability of assignment to treatment is equal to half and is the same in all 5 blocks. There are 543 constituencies in the country, out of which 338 are in states in our sample. Constituencies that are not completely covered by any of the 60 stations will be excluded from the sample. We do not currently have a detailed mapping of the radio propagation zones, but we expect our final sample to consist of approximately 275 constituency segments. There are on average around 1.5 million registered voters, 15 candidates and 1500 polling stations per constituency. Our focus will be on turnout and on voting for main candidates. Electoral returns are released at the polling station level. We have the locations for all polling stations from the Election Commission of India (ECI). We will aggregate the electoral returns from the polling stations that lie within each constituency segment. We identified the main candidates based on the journalist interviews. The experimental design is discussed in detail in the pre-analysis plan.
Randomization Method
The randomization was done using Stata code.
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization was the radio station. Radio stations were divided into 5 blocks. Half of the radio stations in each block were assigned to treatment. The probability of assignment to treatment is half and is the same across blocks.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
60 radio sations
Sample size: planned number of observations
Approximately 275 constituencies
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Approximately half in treatment and half in control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Columbia University IRB
IRB Approval Date
2014-04-09
IRB Approval Number
IRB-AAAN3367
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
Pre-analysis plan AEA registration.pdf

MD5: 2dd2a2a6809996c8ad46bf50a391428f

SHA1: cbcc399bc0ca358d5ac9073d2909469754f45558

Uploaded At: May 14, 2014

Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers