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News Media and Crime Perceptions: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Mastrorocco, Nicola

    () (Trinity College Dublin)

  • Minale, Luigi

    () (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

Abstract

In democracies voters rely on media outlets to learn about politically salient issues. This raises an important question: how strongly can media affect public perceptions? This paper uses a natural experiment – the staggered introduction of the Digital TV signal in Italy – to measure the effect of media persuasion on the perceptions individuals hold. We focus on crime perceptions and, combining channel-specific viewership and content data, we show that the reduced exposure to channels characterized by high levels of crime reporting decreases individual concerns about crime. The effect is driven by individuals aged 50 and over, who turn out to be more exposed to television while using other sources of information less frequently. Finally, we provide some evidence about the effect of the digital introduction on public policies closely related to crime perceptions and on voting behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Mastrorocco, Nicola & Minale, Luigi, 2018. "News Media and Crime Perceptions: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 11491, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11491
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    information; news media; persuasion; crime perceptions;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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