Journal article written by 2007 DPDF The Political Economy of Redistribution Fellow Guy Grossman, Macartan Humphreys, and Gabriella Sacramone-Lutz:
How does access to information communication technology (ICT) affect who gets heard and what gets communicated to politicians? On one hand ICT can lower communication costs for poorer constituents; on the other, technological channels may be used disproportionately more by the already well connected. To assess the attening effects of ICTs we presented a representative sample of constituents in Uganda with an opportunity to send a text-message to their representatives at one of three randomly assigned prices. Critically, and contrary to concerns that technological innovations benefit the privileged, we and evidence that ICT can lead to signifcant attening: a greater share of marginalized populations use this channel compared to existing political communication channels. Price plays a more complex role. Subsidizing the full cost of messaging increases uptake by over 40%. Surprisingly however, subsidy-induced increases in uptake do not yield further attening since free channels are not used at higher rates by more marginalized constituents.