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It's the Media, Stupid - How Media Activity Shapes Public Spending

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  • Christian Bruns
  • Oliver Himmler

Abstract

Politicians seeking reelection need voters to know what they have done for them. Thus, incentives may arise to spend more money where media coverage is higher. We present a simple model to explain the allocation of public spending across jurisdictions contingent on media activity. An incumbent seeking to maximize the probability of reelection will shift more money to jurisdictions where an extra dollar gains more votes because a larger share of the electorate is informed about his policy. This prediction is tested using US data on county-level public spending, Designated Market Areas (DMAs) and location of licensed television stations. Instrumenting for the possible endogeneity of media activity to public spending, 2SLS results confirm a positive effect of media coverage on county-level public spending. Spatial regression rules out the possibility of confounding media effects with spatial autocorrelation.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Bruns & Oliver Himmler, 2008. "It's the Media, Stupid - How Media Activity Shapes Public Spending," CESifo Working Paper Series 2493, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2493
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 2002. "Political economics and public finance," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 24, pages 1549-1659 Elsevier.
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    4. David Albouy, 2013. "Partisan Representation in Congress and the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 127-141, March.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    6. James M. Snyder & David Strömberg, 2010. "Press Coverage and Political Accountability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(2), pages 355-408, April.
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    8. Brian Knight, 2004. "Legislative Representation, Bargaining Power, and the Distribution of Federal Funds: Evidence from the U.S. Senate," NBER Working Papers 10385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Méon, Pierre-Guillaume & Minne, Geoffrey, 2014. "Mark my words: Information and the fear of declaring an exchange rate regime," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 244-261.
    2. Pierre-Guillaume Méon & Geoffrey Minne, 2014. "Mark my Words: Information and the Fear of Declaring one’s Exchange Rate Regime," Post-Print CEB, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 107, pages 244-261, March.
    3. David Bartolini & Agnese Sacchi & Domenico Scalera & Alberto Zazzaro, 2018. "The closer the better? Institutional distance and information blurring in a political agency model," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 146, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    public spending; information; television; elections;

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General

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