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Media and polarization

Listed author(s):
  • Campante, Filipe R.
  • Hojman, Daniel A.

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.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272713000340
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 100 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 79-92

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:100:y:2013:i:c:p:79-92
DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2013.02.006
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2005. "Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1283-1330.
  2. Alan S. Gerber & Dean Karlan & Daniel Bergan, 2009. "Does the Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 35-52, April.
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  6. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234.
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  14. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Media Bias and Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 280-316, April.
  15. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
  16. Montalvo, Jose G. & Reynal-Querol, Marta, 2005. "Ethnic diversity and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 293-323, April.
  17. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
  18. David Strömberg, 2004. "Radio's Impact on Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 189-221.
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