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Calling Mogadishu: How Reminders of Anarchy Bias Survey Participation

  • Elaine K. Denny (a1) and Jesse Driscoll (a2)

How does the fear of anarchy affect telephone survey behaviors? A survey experiment administered to a sample of Mogadishu residents—validated with a natural experiment—is used to assess this question. Randomly assigned reminders of anarchic violence conditioned differential effects on survey participation depending on subjects’ background level of security and welfare. Vulnerable subjects were more likely than non-vulnerable subjects to refuse to provide sensitive survey information after reminders of anarchy.

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All data analyzed in this project were collected according to processes approved by the Human Research Protections Program at the University of California at San Diego (Project # 111743 and #131065). The initial 2012 face-to-face survey was conducted cooperatively with Nicholai Lidow and the assistance of enumerators recruited from SUHA Mogadishu. Support for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation (Award No. SES-1216070), as well as the University of California at San Diego’s Hellman Fellowship and the Program Design and Evaluation Lab. The data, code, and any additional materials required to replicate all analyses in this article are available at the Journal of Experimental Political Science Dataverse within the Harvard Dataverse Network, at: doi:10.7910/DVN/IS2KTU. Madelyn Driscoll at Microsoft facilitated permissions for the Skype calls to Mogadishu that began in 2013. The names of the Somali-language survey enumerators that operated the phone bank are Abdulmalik Buul, Ibrahim Warsame, Ahmed Aden, and Abdisalan Haji, Abdikarim Tukri, and Abdiaziz Hussien. Helpful comments on previous drafts were provided by Craig Macintosh, Nahomi Ichino, Chris Fariss, Claire Adida, Lauren Prather, Nico Ravanilla, William Reno, and David Laitin. We also received valuable advice from editors and anonymous reviewers at this journal (and others), co-panelists at the Peace Sciences Annual Meeting, the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, and various UCSD working groups. The authors have no conflict of interest.

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