Is the Internet Causing Political Polarization? Evidence from Demographics

26 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2017

See all articles by Levi Boxell

Levi Boxell

Stanford University

Matthew Gentzkow

Stanford University

Jesse M. Shapiro

Brown University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: March 2017

Abstract

We combine nine previously proposed measures to construct an index of political polarization among US adults. We find that the growth in polarization in recent years is largest for the demographic groups least likely to use the internet and social media. For example, our overall index and eight of the nine individual measures show greater increases for those older than 75 than for those aged 18–39. These facts argue against the hypothesis that the internet is a primary driver of rising political polarization.

Suggested Citation

Boxell, Levi and Gentzkow, Matthew and Shapiro, Jesse M., Is the Internet Causing Political Polarization? Evidence from Demographics (March 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23258. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2937528

Levi Boxell (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA
United States

Matthew Gentzkow

Stanford University ( email )

Jesse M. Shapiro

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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