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Is the Internet Causing Political Polarization? Evidence from Demographics

Author

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  • Levi Boxell
  • Matthew Gentzkow
  • Jesse M. Shapiro

Abstract

We combine nine previously proposed measures to construct an index of political polarization among US adults. We find that the growth in polarization in recent years is largest for the demographic groups least likely to use the internet and social media. For example, our overall index and eight of the nine individual measures show greater increases for those older than 75 than for those aged 18–39. These facts argue against the hypothesis that the internet is a primary driver of rising political polarization.

Suggested Citation

  • Levi Boxell & Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2017. "Is the Internet Causing Political Polarization? Evidence from Demographics," NBER Working Papers 23258, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23258 Note: POL
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. John P. Conley & Ali Sina Onder & Benno Torgler, 2012. "Are all High-Skilled Coherts Created Equal? Unemployment, Gender, and Research Productivity," School of Economics and Finance Discussion Papers and Working Papers Series 293, School of Economics and Finance, Queensland University of Technology.
    2. 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, pages 73-88.
    3. Håkan Selin, 2012. "Marginal Tax Rates and Tax‐Favoured Pension Savings of the Self‐Employed: Evidence from Sweden," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, pages 79-100.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:95:y:2001:i:03:p:619-631_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.
    6. 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, pages 73-88.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Leonardo Bursztyn & Davide Cantoni & Patricia Funk & Noam Yuchtman, 2017. "Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout," NBER Working Papers 23490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Inés Moreno de Barreda & Gilat Levy & Ronny Razin, 2017. "Persuasion with Correlation Neglect: Media Power via Correlation of News Content," Economics Series Working Papers 836, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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