NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Persistent Effects of Violent Media Content

Jason M. Lindo, Isaac D. Swensen, Glen R. Waddell

NBER Working Paper No. 27240
Issued in May 2020
NBER Program(s):Children, Health Care, Health Economics, Industrial Organization, Law and Economics, Labor Studies, Public Economics

We document the immediate and long-term effects of violent media. Specifically, we evaluate the effects of The Ultimate Fighter, a hit TV show that features fighters competing in violent mixed martial arts and which brought Ultimate Fighting Championship into the mainstream. We estimate the effect of early exposure to this show using panel data from police agencies across the United States and a strategy that uses network ratings prior to the show's premier as an instrumental variable. We show that early exposure significantly reduced crime: these effects are particularly evident for assault, began in the month the show premiered, and persisted for many years. These estimates do not reflect systematic differences across geographic areas in their trends in crime rates prior to 2005. To complement our main results, we also investigate the effects of "UFC Main Events," which air in bars and on Pay-Per-View. This analysis additionally suggests reductions in violence caused by viewership.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27240

 
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