Yanagizawa-Drott, David. 2014. “Propaganda and Conflict: Evidence from the Rwandan Genocide.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 129 (4): 1947-1994. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper investigates the role of mass media in times of conflict and state-sponsored mass violence against civilians. We use a unique village-level dataset 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 impact on participation in killings by both militia groups and ordinary civilians. An estimated 51,000 perpetrators, or approximately 10 percent 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 paper provides evidence that mass media can affect participation in violence directly due to exposure, and indirectly due to social interactions.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David. 2013. “Propaganda vs. Education; A Case Study of Hate Radio in Rwanda.” Oxford Handbook of Propaganda Studies, ed. Jonathan Auerbach and Russ Castronovo, 378-394. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 378-394.Abstract

sponsored propaganda on political violence. It provides evidence of the hypothesis that basic education can limit the effectiveness of propaganda by increasing access to alternative media sources. It builds on the case study of the Rwandan Genocide in Yanagizawa-Drott (2011), and shows that the propaganda disseminated by the “hate radio” station RTLM did not affect participation in violence in villages where education levels, as measured by literacy rates, were relatively high. A discussion of the potential underlying mechanisms driving the results is presented. The methodological challenges of identifying causal effects of mass media and propaganda are also described, including recent innovations using statistical methods that may be used to overcome those challenges.

Yanagizawa-Drott, David. 2012. “Propaganda and conflict: theory and evidence from the Rwandan genocide”.Abstract

This paper investigates the role of mass media in times of conflict and state-sponsored violence. A model of collective violence is presented where mass media has the potential to increase participation in conflict by facilitating coordination, in addition to any direct effect on behavior due to content. Guided by the insights of the model, the paper uses a unique nation-wide village-level dataset from the Rwandan Genocide to estimate the impact of radio broadcasts that called for the extermination of the Tutsi minority, and are commonly believed to have played a signi…ficant role in fueling the violence. The results show that the broadcasts increased participation in the killings. They indicate that approximately 10 percent, or an estimated 51,000 perpetrators, of the participation in the violence during the Rwandan Genocide can be attributed to the effects of the radio. Violence that inherently requires more coordination, such as militia and army violence, was also more affected by the broadcasts. Together with a set of results presented in the paper, the evidence indicates that mass media can in part affect conflict by functioning as a coordination device.