Ideological Segregation Online and Offline
We use individual and aggregate data to ask how the Internet is changing the ideological segregation of the American electorate. Focusing on online news consumption, offline news consumption, and face-to-face social interactions, we define ideological segregation in each domain using standard indices from the literature on racial segregation. We find that ideological segregation of online news consumption is low in absolute terms, higher than the segregation of most offline news consumption, and significantly lower than the segregation of face-to-face interactions with neighbors, co-workers, or family members. We find no evidence that the Internet is becoming more segregated over time.
This paper would not have been possible without the generous support of Jim Collins at Mediamark Research and Intelligence. We thank our dedicated research assistants for invaluable contributions to this project, and seminar participants at Chicago Booth and the SIEPR / Microsoft Conference on Internet Economics for helpful comments. This research was funded by the Initiative on Global Markets, the George J. Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, the Centel Foundation / Robert P. Reuss Faculty Research Fund, and the Neubauer Family Foundation, all at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
“Ideological Segregation Online and Offline” (with Jesse M. Shapiro). Quarterly Journal of Economics. 126(4). November 2011. citation courtesy of