Levi Boxell

Stanford University, Department of Economics
579 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford, CA 94305

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org

NBER Working Papers and Publications

April 2020Polarization and Public Health: Partisan Differences in Social Distancing during the Coronavirus Pandemic
with Hunt Allcott, Jacob C. Conway, Matthew Gentzkow, Michael Thaler, David Y. Yang: w26946
We study partisan differences in Americans’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Political leaders and media outlets on the right and left have sent divergent messages about the severity of the crisis, which could impact the extent to which Republicans and Democrats engage in social distancing and other efforts to reduce disease transmission. We develop a simple model of a pandemic response with heterogeneous agents that clarifies the causes and consequences of heterogeneous responses. We use location data from a large sample of smartphones to show that areas with more Republicans engaged in less social distancing, controlling for other factors including public policies, population density, and local COVID cases and deaths. We then present new survey evidence of significant gaps at the indiv...

Published: Hunt Allcott & Levi Boxell & Jacob Conway & Matthew Gentzkow & Michael Thaler & David Yang, 2020. "Polarization and Public Health: Partisan Differences in Social Distancing during the Coronavirus Pandemic," Journal of Public Economics, .

January 2020Cross-Country Trends in Affective Polarization
with Matthew Gentzkow, Jesse M. Shapiro: w26669
We measure trends in affective polarization in nine OECD countries over the past four decades. The US experienced the largest increase in polarization over this period. Three countries experienced a smaller increase in polarization. Five countries experienced a decrease in polarization. These findings are most consistent with explanations of polarization based on changes that are more distinctive to the US (e.g., changing party composition, growing racial divisions, the emergence of partisan cable news), and less consistent with explanations based on changes that are more universal (e.g., the emergence of the internet, rising economic inequality).
March 2017Is the Internet Causing Political Polarization? Evidence from Demographics
with Matthew Gentzkow, Jesse M. Shapiro: w23258
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.
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us