IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/tin/wpaper/20190048.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A Theory on Media Bias and Elections

Author

Listed:
  • Junze Sun

    (Amsterdam School of Economics)

  • Arthur Schram

    (Amsterdam School of Economics)

  • Randolph Sloof

    (Amsterdam School of Economics)

Abstract

We develop a tractable theory to study the impact of biased media on election outcomes, voter turnout and welfare. News released by media allows voters to infer the relative appeal of the two candidates, and the closeness of elections. In large elections, the former determines the election outcome, whereas the latter drives voter turnout. With a single media outlet, a rise in media bias affects the election outcome in a non-monotonic way, and reduces voter welfare by decreasing the probability of electing the efficient candidate and increasing aggregate turnout costs. Introducing extra media outlets can systematically shift the election outcome and voter turnout in either direction, but it weakly improves voter welfare. The impact of other ways to strengthen media competition – such as increased polarization and prevention of collusion – critically depends on whether media have commitment power; if not, they can worsen information transmission and voter welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Junze Sun & Arthur Schram & Randolph Sloof, 2019. "A Theory on Media Bias and Elections," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-048/I, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20190048
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://papers.tinbergen.nl/19048.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2011. "Media and Political Persuasion: Evidence from Russia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3253-3285, December.
    2. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca B. Morton & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2010. "The Swing Voter's Curse in the Laboratory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 61-89.
    3. 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.
    4. Feddersen, Timothy J. & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1999. "Abstention in Elections with Asymmetric Information and Diverse Preferences," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 381-398, June.
    5. Piolatto, Amedeo & Schuett, Florian, 2015. "Media competition and electoral politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 80-93.
    6. Marco Battaglini, 2002. "Multiple Referrals and Multidimensional Cheap Talk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1379-1401, July.
    7. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2011. "The Effect of Newspaper Entry and Exit on Electoral Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 2980-3018, December.
    8. Alessandro Gavazza & Mattia Nardotto & Tommaso Valletti, 2019. "Internet and Politics: Evidence from U.K. Local Elections and Local Government Policies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 86(5), pages 2092-2135.
    9. Anton Kolotilin & Tymofiy Mylovanov & Andriy Zapechelnyuk & Ming Li, 2017. "Persuasion of a Privately Informed Receiver," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 85(6), pages 1949-1964, November.
    10. Ina Taneva, 2019. "Information Design," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(4), pages 151-185, November.
    11. Larcinese, Valentino & Puglisi, Riccardo & Snyder Jr., James M., 2011. "Partisan bias in economic news: Evidence on the agenda-setting behavior of U.S. newspapers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9-10), pages 1178-1189, October.
    12. Sobbrio, Francesco, 2014. "Citizen-editors' endogenous information acquisition and news accuracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 43-53.
    13. 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.
    14. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Daniel F. Stone, 2014. "Media Bias in the Marketplace: Theory," NBER Working Papers 19880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Ellingsen, Sebastian & Hernæs, Øystein, 2018. "The impact of commercial television on turnout and public policy: Evidence from Norwegian local politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 159(C), pages 1-15.
    16. Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 2015. "Majority Rule and Utilitarian Welfare," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 339-375, November.
    17. Chan, Jimmy & Suen, Wing, 2009. "Media as watchdogs: The role of news media in electoral competition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 799-814, October.
    18. Ginzburg, Boris, 2019. "Optimal information censorship," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 377-385.
    19. Bernhardt, Dan & Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias, 2008. "Political polarization and the electoral effects of media bias," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1092-1104, June.
    20. Roger B. Myerson, 1998. "Population uncertainty and Poisson games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 27(3), pages 375-392.
    21. John Mcmillan & Pablo Zoido, 2004. "How to Subvert Democracy: Montesinos in Peru," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 69-92, Fall.
    22. Riccardo Puglisi & James M. Snyder Jr., 2015. "The Balanced Us Press," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 240-264, April.
    23. Maja Adena & Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Veronica Santarosa & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2015. "Radio and the Rise of The Nazis in Prewar Germany," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1885-1939.
    24. Hunt Allcott & Matthew Gentzkow, 2017. "Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election," NBER Working Papers 23089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. Ruben Durante & Brian Knight, 2012. "Partisan Control, Media Bias, And Viewer Responses: Evidence From Berlusconi'S Italy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 451-481, May.
    26. Luis Rayo & Ilya Segal, 2010. "Optimal Information Disclosure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(5), pages 949-987.
    27. Jimmy Chan & Wing Suen, 2008. "A Spatial Theory of News Consumption and Electoral Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 699-728.
    28. 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.
    29. David K. Levine & Andrea Mattozzi, 2020. "Voter Turnout with Peer Punishment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(10), pages 3298-3314, October.
    30. Groãÿer, Jens & Schram, Arthur, 2006. "Neighborhood Information Exchange and Voter Participation: An Experimental Study," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 100(2), pages 235-248, May.
    31. Liu, Shuo, 2019. "Voting with public information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 694-719.
    32. Chun-Fang Chiang & Brian Knight, 2011. "Media Bias and Influence: Evidence from Newspaper Endorsements," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(3), pages 795-820.
    33. Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 2011. "Overcoming Ideological Bias in Elections," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(2), pages 183-211.
    34. Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 2001. "A Model of Expertise," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 747-775.
    35. Levine, David K. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2007. "The Paradox of Voter Participation? A Laboratory Study," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 143-158, February.
    36. 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.
    37. Francesco Drago & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "Meet the Press: How Voters and Politicians Respond to Newspaper Entry and Exit," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-188, July.
    38. 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.
    39. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-424, June.
    40. John Ledyard, 1984. "The pure theory of large two-candidate elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
    41. Gregory J. Martin & Ali Yurukoglu, 2017. "Bias in Cable News: Persuasion and Polarization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(9), pages 2565-2599, September.
    42. Maja Adena & Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Veronica Santarosa & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2015. "Radio and the Rise of The Nazis in Prewar Germany," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1885-1939.
    43. Gentzkow, Matthew & Kamenica, Emir, 2017. "Bayesian persuasion with multiple senders and rich signal spaces," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 411-429.
    44. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2008. "Competition and Truth in the Market for News," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 133-154, Spring.
    45. Stefano Dellavigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier & Gautam Rao, 2017. "Voting to Tell Others," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(1), pages 143-181.
    46. Maja Adena & Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Veronica Santarosa & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2015. "Radio and the Rise of The Nazis in Prewar Germany," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1885-1939.
    47. 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.
    48. J. Duggan & C. Martinelli, 2011. "A Spatial Theory of Media Slant and Voter Choice," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(2), pages 640-666.
    49. Tim Groseclose & Jeffrey Milyo, 2005. "A Measure of Media Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1191-1237.
    50. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence From U.S. Daily Newspapers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 35-71, January.
    51. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
    52. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
    53. Hunt Allcott & Matthew Gentzkow, 2017. "Social Media and Fake News in the 2016 Election," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 211-236, Spring.
    54. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1985. "Voter Participation and Strategic Uncertainty," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 62-78, March.
    55. Lu, Shih En, 2017. "Coordination-free equilibria in cheap talk games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 177-208.
    56. Krishna, Vijay, 2001. "Asymmetric Information and Legislative Rules: Some Amendments," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 95(2), pages 435-452, June.
    57. Crawford, Vincent P & Sobel, Joel, 1982. "Strategic Information Transmission," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1431-1451, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Piolatto, Amedeo & Schuett, Florian, 2015. "Media competition and electoral politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 80-93.
    2. Sun, Junze & Schram, Arthur & Sloof, Randolph, 2021. "Elections under biased candidate endorsements — an experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 141-158.
    3. repec:tiu:tiucen:2013072 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:dgr:kubcen:2013072 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Cagé, Julia, 2020. "Media competition, information provision and political participation: Evidence from French local newspapers and elections, 1944–2014," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 185(C).
    6. Sobbrio, Francesco, 2014. "Citizen-editors' endogenous information acquisition and news accuracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 43-53.
    7. Stephane Wolton, 2019. "Are Biased Media Bad for Democracy?," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 63(3), pages 548-562, July.
    8. David Strömberg, 2015. "Media and Politics," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 7(1), pages 173-205, August.
    9. Miner, Luke, 2015. "The unintended consequences of internet diffusion: Evidence from Malaysia," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 66-78.
    10. Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "The political economy of news media: theory, evidence and open issues," Chapters, in: Francesco Forte & Ram Mudambi & Pietro Maria Navarra (ed.), A Handbook of Alternative Theories of Public Economics, chapter 13, pages 278-320, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Jetter, Michael, 2017. "Terrorism and the Media: The Effect of US Television Coverage on Al-Qaeda Attacks," IZA Discussion Papers 10708, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Garz, Marcel & Sörensen, Jil, 2017. "Politicians under investigation: The news Media's effect on the likelihood of resignation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 82-91.
    13. Prat, Andrea & Strömberg, David, 2011. "The Political Economy of Mass Media," CEPR Discussion Papers 8246, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Biondo, A.E. & Pluchino, A. & Rapisarda, A., 2018. "Modeling surveys effects in political competitions," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 503(C), pages 714-726.
    15. repec:esx:essedp:734 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Michael Jetter, 2017. "Mediated Terrorism: US News and Al-Qaeda Attacks," CESifo Working Paper Series 6804, CESifo.
    17. Jetter, Michael, 2019. "The inadvertent consequences of al-Qaeda news coverage," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 391-410.
    18. Francesco Sobbrio, 2012. "A Citizen-Editors Model of News Media," RSCAS Working Papers 2012/61, European University Institute.
    19. Brian Knight & Ana Tribin, 2019. "The Limits of Propaganda: Evidence from Chavez’s Venezuela," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 567-605.
    20. repec:hrv:faseco:33078973 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Miura, Shintaro, 2019. "Manipulated news model: Electoral competition and mass media," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 306-338.
    22. Caroline Le Pennec & Vincent Pons, 2019. "How Do Campaigns Shape Vote Choice? Multi-Country Evidence from 62 Elections and 56 TV Debates," NBER Working Papers 26572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Konstantin Sonin, 2018. "Social Media and Corruption," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 150-174, January.
    24. Brian Knight & Ana Tribin, 2019. "Opposition Media, State Censorship, and Political Accountability: Evidence from Chavez's Venezuela," NBER Working Papers 25916, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    media bias; voting; Poisson games; media competition; commitment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20190048. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Tinbergen Office +31 (0)10-4088900). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/tinbenl.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.