NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Is the Internet Causing Political Polarization? Evidence from Demographics

Levi Boxell, Matthew Gentzkow, Jesse M. Shapiro

NBER Working Paper No. 23258
Issued in March 2017
NBER Program(s):POL

We combine nine previously proposed measures to construct an index of political polarization among US adults. We find that the growth in polarization in recent years is largest for the demographic groups least likely to use the internet and social media. For example, our overall index and eight of the nine individual measures show greater increases for those older than 75 than for those aged 18–39. These facts argue against the hypothesis that the internet is a primary driver of rising political polarization.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23258

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