Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Misinformation during a pandemic


Bursztyn, Leonardo; Rao, Aakaash; Roth, Christopher P; Yanagizawa-Drott, David (2020). Misinformation during a pandemic. NBER Working Paper Series 27417, National Bureau of Economic Research.

Abstract

Media outlets often present diverging, even conflicting, perspectives on reality — not only informing, but potentially misinforming audiences. We study the extent to which misinformation broadcast on mass media at the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic influenced health outcomes. We first document large differences in content between the two most popular cable news shows in the US, both on the same network, and in the adoption of preventative behaviors among viewers of these shows. Through both a selection-on-observables strategy and an 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 an epidemiological model highlighting the role of externalities and provide evidence that contemporaneous information exposure is a key underlying mechanism.

Abstract

Media outlets often present diverging, even conflicting, perspectives on reality — not only informing, but potentially misinforming audiences. We study the extent to which misinformation broadcast on mass media at the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic influenced health outcomes. We first document large differences in content between the two most popular cable news shows in the US, both on the same network, and in the adoption of preventative behaviors among viewers of these shows. Through both a selection-on-observables strategy and an 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 an epidemiological model highlighting the role of externalities and provide evidence that contemporaneous information exposure is a key underlying mechanism.

Statistics

Citations

Dimensions.ai Metrics

Altmetrics

Downloads

27 downloads since deposited on 15 Feb 2021
13 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:D1, I31, Z13
Uncontrolled Keywords:Media, misinformation, health, coronavirus
Scope:Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Language:English
Date:September 2020
Deposited On:15 Feb 2021 12:45
Last Modified:06 Mar 2024 14:34
Series Name:NBER Working Paper Series
Number of Pages:112
Additional Information:Revised version
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3386/w27417
Official URL:https://www.nber.org/papers/w27417
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:20767
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English