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The Reach of Radio: defection messaging and armed group behavior

16th National Competition for Economic Research Grants

Labour economics

Senior Researcher : Alex Armand

Research Centre or Institution : Universidad de Navarra. Pamplona.


This project expands the field of research on the political economy of conflict by evaluating the impact of FM radio “Come Home” messages directed at active combatants in the LRA Insurgency (1989-Present) in central Africa. We specifically aim to generate evidence on behavioral dimensions of conflict, while researching this otherwise empirically untested policy. We provide causal evidence of the impact of the program on violence, types of violence, defections, abductions, and how each of these interact with changes in regional economic conditions.

To do so we exploited novel data collected from radio stations that allowed us to model radio coverage corrected for topography. The effect of those broadcasts was measured with an LRA-specific conflict events data set that provides precise descriptions of both major LRA events (such as massacres) and minor events (like sightings). The results of the study show that radio messages have the potential to encourage defections among the rebels and reduce general violence. An increase in a standard deviation in the intensity of messages (approximately 20 minutes of daily messages with full cell coverage) leads to a 2.7% decrease in deaths, a 1% increase in the number of returnees and a decrease 1% in the number of attacks against civilians and clashes with security forces, but it does not have a statistically significant effect on kidnapping rates.


Scientific Production
Magazine Articles 1
Communications at national conferences 2
Communications at international conferences 10


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