Measuring insecurity-related experiences and preferences in a fragile State. A list experiment in Mali

Micro Seminar
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Marion Mercier

Friday 25 Nov 2022, 15:30 - 16:45
Polak Building
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Measuring behaviors and preferences in times of conflict is of great interest for understanding conflict dynamics and designing conflict-resolution interventions. Yet, data users often cast doubts on the reliability of sensitive self-reported measures, especially in fragile contexts.

(Joint with Olivia Bertelli, Thomas Calvo, and Emmanuelle Lavallée). 

This is the first paper to study sensitive experiences and preferences related to insecurity in a fragile State – Mali – by explicitly addressing potential response biases with a List Experiment (LE) method. We survey 1,500 individuals across the entire country and randomly assign respondents to answer sensitive questions through the LE or DQ (direct question) techniques, so as to measure response biases.

Physical assault victimization, firearms’ possession, willingness to engage in violence

We focus on three experience-related items (physical assault victimization, firearms’ possession, willingness to engage in violence) and two preference-related items (support for the military regime and trust in the foreign armed forces in Mali).

We find large biases affecting responses about preference-related items. Our results confirm that popular support for the military regime and mistrust in the foreign armed forces is large, but response biases yield a substantial over-estimation of these prevalence rates. We also show that response biases are not uniformly distributed across the population, but vary depending on gender, education and conflict exposure.

Last, we show that such heterogeneity in response biases can yield fake but statistically significant correlations between individual characteristics and self-reported data in a regression setting.


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