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Media, Education, and anti-Americanism in the Muslim World

Author

Listed:
  • Matthew A. Gentzkow

    (Harvard University)

  • Jesse M. Shapiro

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

Recent surveys in the United States and the Muslim world show widespread misinformation about the events of September 11, 2001. Using data from 9 predominantly Muslim countries, we study how such beliefs depend on exposure to news media and levels of education. Standard economic theory would predict that increased access to information should cause beliefs to converge. More recent models of biased belief formation suggest that this result might hinge critically on who is providing the information. Consistent with the latter, we find that overall intensity of media use and level of education have at best a weak correlation with beliefs, while particular information sources have strong and divergent effects. Compared to those with little media exposure or schooling, individuals watching Arab news channels or educated in schools with little Western influence are less likely to agree that the September 11 attacks were carried out by Arab terrorists. Those exposed to media or education from Western sources are more likely to agree. Belief that the attacks were morally justified and general attitudes toward the US are also strongly correlated with source of information. These findings survive controls for demographic characteristics and are robust to identifying media effects using cross-country variation in language.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew A. Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2004. "Media, Education, and anti-Americanism in the Muslim World," Microeconomics 0402005, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0402005
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Djankov, Simeon & et al, 2003. "Who Owns the Media?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 341-381, October.
    2. Edward L. Glaeser, 2004. "Psychology and the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 408-413, May.
    3. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2003. "Education, Poverty and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(4), pages 119-144, Fall.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser, 2003. "Psychology and the Market," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2023, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    5. Alan B. Krueger & Jitka Maleckova, 2002. "Education, Poverty, Political Violence and Terrorism: Is There a Causal Connection?," NBER Working Papers 9074, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    persuasion; media; bias; terrorism;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • D3 - Microeconomics - - Distribution
    • D4 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design

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