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Media Markets and Localism: Does Local News en Español Boost Hispanic Voter Turnout?

  • Felix Oberholzer-Gee
  • Joel Waldfogel

In the past decade Americans have increasingly turned their attention to nonlocal information sources, raising concerns about disengagement from local communities. Regulation sometimes seeks to curtail the integration of media markets through the promotion of "localism." This paper examines the role of local media. We make use of the rapid growth of Hispanic communities in the United States to test whether the presence of local television news affects local civic behavior. We find that Hispanic voter turnout increased by 5 to 10 percentage points, relative to non-Hispanic turnout, in markets where Spanish-language local television news became available. (JEL D72, J15, L82)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 2120-28

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:5:p:2120-28
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.5.2120
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  1. Oberholzer-Gee, Felix & Waldfogel, Joel, 2005. "Strength in Numbers: Group Size and Political Mobilization," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 73-91, April.
  2. Alan Gerber & Daniel Bergan & Dean Karlan, 2006. "Does the media matter? A field experiment measuring the effect of newspapers on voting behavior and political opinions," Natural Field Experiments 00252, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Benjamin A. Olken, 2006. "Do Television and Radio Destroy Social Capital? Evidence from Indonesian Villages," Working Papers id:642, eSocialSciences.
  4. Joel Waldfogel, 1999. "Preference Externalities: An Empirical Study of Who Benefits Whom in Differentiated Product Markets," NBER Working Papers 7391, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. DellaVigna, Stefano & Kaplan, Ethan, 2006. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," Seminar Papers 748, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  6. David Strömberg, 2004. "Radio's Impact on Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 189-221, February.
  7. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. " Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
  8. David Str�mberg, 2004. "Mass Media Competition, Political Competition, and Public Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 265-284.
  9. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
  10. Lisa George & Joel Waldfogel, 2003. "Who Affects Whom in Daily Newspaper Markets?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(4), pages 765-784, August.
  11. Barry Nalebuff & Ron Shachar, 1999. "Follow the Leader: Theory and Evidence on Political Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 525-547, June.
  12. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
  13. Lisa George & Joel Waldfogel, 2000. "Who Benefits Whom in Daily Newspaper Markets?," NBER Working Papers 7944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972, 08.
  15. Timothy J. Fedderson & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1996. "Abstention in Elections with Asymmetric Information and Diverse Preferences," Discussion Papers 1195, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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