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Media and polarization

Author

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  • Campante, Filipe R.
  • Hojman, Daniel A.

Abstract

This paper sheds light on the links between media and political polarization by looking at the introduction of broadcast TV in the US. We provide causal evidence that broadcast TV decreased the ideological extremism of US representatives. We then show that exposure to radio was associated with decreased polarization. We interpret this result by using a simple framework that identifies two channels linking media environment to politicians' incentives to polarize. First, the ideology effect: changes in the media environment may affect the distribution of citizens' ideological views, with politicians moving their positions accordingly. Second, the motivation effect: the media may affect citizens' political motivation, changing the ideological composition of the electorate and thereby impacting elite polarization while mass polarization is unchanged. The evidence on polarization and turnout is consistent with a prevalence of the ideology effect in the case of TV, as both of them decreased. Increased turnout associated with radio exposure is in turn consistent with a role for the motivation effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Campante, Filipe R. & Hojman, Daniel A., 2013. "Media and polarization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 79-92.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:100:y:2013:i:c:p:79-92
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2013.02.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Marina Azzimonti, 2015. "Partisan Conflict and Private Investment," NBER Working Papers 21273, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Oliver Falck & Robert Gold & Stephan Heblich, 2014. "E-lections: Voting Behavior and the Internet," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2238-2265, July.
    3. Campante, Filipe R. & Hojman, Daniel A., 2013. "Media and polarization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 79-92.
    4. Piolatto, Amedeo & Schuett, Florian, 2015. "Media competition and electoral politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 80-93.
    5. Filipe R. Campante & Ruben Durante & Francesco Sobbrio, 2013. "Politics 2.0: the Multifaceted Effect of Broadband Internet on Political Participation," Sciences Po publications 19029, Sciences Po.
    6. repec:dgr:kubcen:2013072 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2011. "Ideological Segregation Online and Offline," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1799-1839.
    8. Halberstam, Yosh & Knight, Brian, 2016. "Homophily, group size, and the diffusion of political information in social networks: Evidence from Twitter," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 73-88.
    9. Gersbach, Hans & Muller, Philippe & Tejada, Oriol, 2016. "The Effects of Higher Re-election Hurdles and Costs of Policy Change on Political Polarization," CEPR Discussion Papers 11375, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Prat, Andrea & Strömberg, David, 2011. "The Political Economy of Mass Media," CEPR Discussion Papers 8246, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Stone, Daniel F., 2013. "Media and gridlock," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 94-104.
    12. repec:tiu:tiucen:2013072 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Joshua S. Gans & Andrew Leigh, 2012. "How Partisan is the Press? Multiple Measures of Media Slant," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 88(280), pages 127-147, March.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Media; Political polarization; Turnout; Ideology; TV; Radio;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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