Unintended Media Effects in a Conflict Environment: Serbian Radio and Croatian Nationalism
University of California, Berkeley; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Institute for Advanced Study; New Economic School; Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR)
affiliation not provided to SSRN
Princeton University; New Economic School (NES)
Paris School of Economics; New Economic School
NBER Working Paper No. w16989
Do media broadcasts matter when they reach audiences that are not their target? In a conflict, the media may have an unintended effect of increasing ethnic animosity. We consider radio signals travelling across country borders in the region that witnessed one of Europe’s deadliest conflicts since WWII: the Serbo-Croatian conflict in the Yugoslavian wars. Using survey data, we find that a large fraction of Croats listen to Serbian radio (intended for Serbian listeners across the border) whenever signal is available. Then, using official election results, we document that residents of Croatian villages with good-quality signal of Serbian public radio were more likely to vote for extreme nationalist parties, even after several years of peace time. Finally, ethnically-offensive graffiti are more likely to be exposed openly in the center of villages with Serbian radio reception. The effect is identified from the variation in the availability of the signal mostly due to topography and forestation. The results of a laboratory experiment confirm that Serbian radio exposure causes an increase in anti-Serbian sentiment among Croats.
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Number of Pages in PDF File: 45working papers series
Date posted: May 4, 2011
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