Information, Social Networks and the Demand for Public Goods: Experimental Evidence from Benin

DRI Working Paper No. 60
By Leonard Wantchekon and Christel Vermeersch

This paper empirically investigates the effects of memberships in information and social networks on the demand for public goods. The data originate from a unique …field experiment that took place during the …first round of the 2001 presidential elections in Benin. Randomly selected villages were exposed to "purely" redistributive or "purely" national public goods electoral platforms, while the remaining villages were exposed to standard mixed platforms. We …find that individuals who are exposed to media or who are members of local associations have higher demand for public goods, while voters who are more involved in political discussions demand less. Ceteris paribus, demand for public goods is higher among voters who have ethnic ties with a candidate, are more educated or female, but we fi…nd no modifying effect of religion or socio-economic status.