NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of Newspaper Entry and Exit on Electoral Politics

Matthew Gentzkow, Jesse M. Shapiro, Michael Sinkinson

NBER Working Paper No. 15544
Issued in November 2009
NBER Program(s):   DAE   IO   POL

We use new data on entries and exits of US daily newspapers from 1869 to 2004 to estimate effects on political participation, party vote shares, and electoral competitiveness. Our identification strategy exploits the precise timing of these events and allows for the possibility of confounding trends. We find that newspapers have a robust positive effect on political participation, with one additional newspaper increasing both presidential and congressional turnout by approximately 0.3 percentage points. Newspaper competition is not a key driver of turnout: our effect is driven mainly by the first newspaper in a market, and the effect of a second or third paper is significantly smaller. The effect on presidential turnout diminishes after the introduction of radio and television, while the estimated effect on congressional turnout remains similar up to recent years. We find no evidence that partisan newspapers affect party vote shares, with confidence intervals that rule out even moderate-sized effects. We find no clear evidence that newspapers systematically help or hurt incumbents.

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A data appendix is available at http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w15544

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15544

Published: “The Effect of Newspaper Entry and Ex it on Electoral Politics” (with Jesse M. Shapiro and Michael Sinkinson). American Economic Review . 101(7). December 2011.

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