NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Misinformation During a Pandemic

Leonardo Bursztyn, Aakaash Rao, Christopher P. Roth, David H. Yanagizawa-Drott

NBER Working Paper No. 27417
Issued in June 2020, Revised in September 2020
NBER Program(s):Health Economics, Political Economy

Media outlets often present diverging, even conflicting, perspectives on reality — not only informing, but potentially misinforming audiences. We study the extent to which misinformation broadcast on mass media at the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic influenced health outcomes. We first document large differences in content between the two most popular cable news shows in the US, both on the same network, and in the adoption of preventative behaviors among viewers of these shows. Through both a selection-on-observables strategy and an instrumental variable approach, we find that areas with greater exposure to the show downplaying the threat of COVID-19 experienced a greater number of cases and deaths. We assess magnitudes through an epidemiological model highlighting the role of externalities and provide evidence that contemporaneous information exposure is a key underlying mechanism.

download in pdf format
   (3475 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27417

 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

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

Contact Us