Department of Economics
Littauer Center of Public Administration
1805 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Institutional Affiliation: Harvard University
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|June 2020||Misinformation During a Pandemic|
with Leonardo Bursztyn, Christopher P. Roth, David H. Yanagizawa-Drott: w27417
We study the effects of COVID-19 coverage early in the pandemic by the two most widely-viewed cable news shows in the United States – Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight, both on Fox News – on downstream health outcomes. We first document large differences in content between the shows and in cautious behavior among viewers. Through both a selection-on-observables strategy and a novel instrumental variable approach, we find that areas with greater exposure to the show downplaying the threat of COVID-19 experienced a greater number of cases and deaths. We assess magnitudes through a simple epidemiological model highlighting the role of externalities and provide evidence that misinformation is a key underlying mechanism.
|May 2020||I Have Nothing Against Them, But. . .|
with Leonardo Bursztyn, Ingar K. Haaland, Christopher P. Roth: w27288
We study the use of excuses to justify socially stigmatized actions, such as opposing minority groups. Rationales to oppose minorities change some people’s private opinions, leading them to take anti-minority actions even if they are not prejudiced against minorities. When these rationales become common knowledge, prejudiced people who are not persuaded by the rationale can pool with unprejudiced people who are persuaded. This decreases the stigma associated with anti-minority expression, increasing public opposition to minority groups. We examine this mechanism through several large-scale experiments in the context of anti-immigrant behavior in the United States. In the first main experiment, participants learn about a study claiming that immigrants increase crime rates and then choose wh...