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Vaccine Hesitancy and Fake News: Quasi-experimental Evidence from Italy

Author

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  • Carrieri, V.;
  • Madio, L.;
  • Principe, F.;

Abstract

The spread of fake news and misinformation on social media is blamed to be one of the main causes of vaccine hesitancy, one of the ten threats to global health according to World Health Organization. This paper studies the effect of diffusion of fake news on immunization rates in Italy by exploiting a quasi-experiment occurred in 2012, when the Court of Rimini officially recognized a causal link between MMR vaccine and autism and awarded injury compensation. To this end, we exploit virality of fake news following the 2012 Italian Court’s ruling along with the intensity in the exposure to non-traditional media driven by regional infrastructural differences in Internet broadband coverage. Using a Difference-in-Difference (DiD) regression on regional panel data, we show that the spread of fake news caused a drop in children immunization rates for all types of vaccines.

Suggested Citation

  • Carrieri, V.; & Madio, L.; & Principe, F.;, 2019. "Vaccine Hesitancy and Fake News: Quasi-experimental Evidence from Italy," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 19/03, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:hectdg:19/03
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Anderberg, Dan & Chevalier, Arnaud & Wadsworth, Jonathan, 2011. "Anatomy of a health scare: Education, income and the MMR controversy in the UK," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 515-530, May.
    3. Lenisa V. Chang, 2018. "Information, education, and health behaviors: Evidence from the MMR vaccine autism controversy," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(7), pages 1043-1062, July.
    4. 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.
    5. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Rita Faria’s journal round-up for 26th August 2019
      by Rita Faria in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2019-08-26 11:00:18

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fake news; vaccine hesitancy; children immunization rates; social media; internet;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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