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Radio and the rise of the Nazis in prewar Germany

  • Adena, Maja
  • Enikolopov, Ruben
  • Petrova, Maria
  • Santarosa, Veronica
  • Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina

How far can the media undermine democratic institutions, and how persuasive can media be in ensuring public support for a dictator’s policies? We study this question in the context of Germany between 1929 and 1939. Using quasi-random geographical variation in radio availability, we show that radio had a significant negative effect on the Nazi vote share between 1930 and 1933, when political news had an anti-Nazi slant. In 1933, this negative effect was fully undone in just one month, after the Nazis seized control of the radio and initiated pro-Nazi radio propaganda campaign. Radio also helped the Nazis to enroll new party members and encouraged denunciations of Jews and other open expressions of anti-Semitism after the Nazis fully consolidated power. Nazi radio propaganda was most effective when combined with other propaganda tools, such as Hitler’s speeches, and when the message was aligned with listeners’ prior beliefs as measured by historical anti-Semitism.

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Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change with number SP II 2013-310.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2013310
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  1. Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2006. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 720-736, June.
  2. Alan Gerber & Daniel Bergan & Dean Karlan, 2006. "Does the media matter? A field experiment measuring the effect of newspapers on voting behavior and political opinions," Natural Field Experiments 00252, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Brian G. Knight & Chun-Fang Chiang, 2008. "Media Bias and Influence: Evidence from Newspaper Endorsements," NBER Working Papers 14445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Shanker Satyanath & Nico Voigtländer & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2014. "Bowling for fascism: social capital and the rise of the Nazi Party," UBSCENTER - Working Papers 007, UBS International Center of Economics in Society - Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234, 08.
  6. Thomas Ferguson & Hans-Joachim Voth, 2008. "Betting on Hitler-The Value of Political Connections in Nazi Germany," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 101-137, 02.
  7. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521855266 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2011. "Media and Political Persuasion: Evidence from Russia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3253-85, December.
  9. King, Gary & Rosen, Ori & Tanner, Martin & Wagner, Alexander F., 2008. "Ordinary Economic Voting Behavior in the Extraordinary Election of Adolf Hitler," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(04), pages 951-996, December.
  10. 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, 05.
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