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Propaganda and conflict: evidence from the Rwandan genocide


Yanagizawa-Drott, David (2014). Propaganda and conflict: evidence from the Rwandan genocide. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129(4):1947-1994.

Abstract

This article investigates the role of mass media in times of conflict and state-sponsored mass violence against civilians. We use a unique village-level data set from the Rwandan genocide to estimate the impact of a popular radio station that encouraged violence against the Tutsi minority population. The results show that the broadcasts had a significant effect on participation in killings by both militia groups and ordinary civilians. An estimated 51,000 perpetrators, or approximately 10% of the overall violence, can be attributed to the station. The broadcasts increased militia violence not only directly by influencing behavior in villages with radio reception but also indirectly by increasing participation in neighboring villages. In fact, spillovers are estimated to have caused more militia violence than the direct effects. Thus, the article provides evidence that mass media can affect participation in violence directly due to exposure and indirectly due to social interactions.

Abstract

This article investigates the role of mass media in times of conflict and state-sponsored mass violence against civilians. We use a unique village-level data set from the Rwandan genocide to estimate the impact of a popular radio station that encouraged violence against the Tutsi minority population. The results show that the broadcasts had a significant effect on participation in killings by both militia groups and ordinary civilians. An estimated 51,000 perpetrators, or approximately 10% of the overall violence, can be attributed to the station. The broadcasts increased militia violence not only directly by influencing behavior in villages with radio reception but also indirectly by increasing participation in neighboring villages. In fact, spillovers are estimated to have caused more militia violence than the direct effects. Thus, the article provides evidence that mass media can affect participation in violence directly due to exposure and indirectly due to social interactions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Conflict; genocide; mass media; propaganda; social interactions
Language:English
Date:November 2014
Deposited On:07 Jun 2017 12:36
Last Modified:08 Jun 2017 08:12
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0033-5533
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qju020

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