Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/198845
Year of Publication: 
2019
Series/Report no.: 
CESifo Working Paper No. 7485
Publisher: 
Center for Economic Studies and ifo Institute (CESifo), Munich
Abstract: 
This paper explores the causal influence of media content on voting behavior. We exploit a natural experiment involving access to West German TV within the German Democratic Republic. Focusing on federal and state election outcomes in the post-reunification decade (i.e., a time at which TV content was harmonized), we find that municipalities that had access to Western TV broadcasts before reunification have lower vote shares for left-wing and right-wing extremist parties. With regard to potential channels, we provide evidence based on survey data that GDR citizens with access to West German TV were less loyal to the socialist regime, less hostile toward foreigners, and exhibited higher levels of social capital. Our findings thus support the notion that access to free media influences political attitudes and facilitates the consolidation of democracy.
Subjects: 
voting
extremism
television
media
natural experiment
Germany
JEL: 
D72
L82
P30
Document Type: 
Working Paper
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