NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Electoral Competition with Fake News

Gene M. Grossman, Elhanan Helpman

NBER Working Paper No. 26409
Issued in October 2019
NBER Program(s):Political Economy Program

Misinformation pervades political competition. We introduce opportunities for political candidates and their media supporters to spread fake news about the policy environment and perhaps about parties' positions into a familiar model of electoral competition. In the baseline model with full information, the parties' positions converge to those that maximize aggregate welfare. When parties can broadcast fake news to audiences that disproportionately include their partisans, policy divergence and suboptimal outcomes can result. We study a sequence of models that impose progressively tighter constraints on false reporting and characterize situations that lead to divergence and a polarized electorate.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26409

 
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