Do People Avoid Morally Relevant Information? Evidence from the Refugee Crisis
CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2017-034
88 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2017
Date Written: July 2017
Combining click data from a Swedish newspaper and administrative data on asylum seekers in Sweden, I examine whether a larger presence of refugees in a municipality induces people to avoid news that may encourage welcoming the newcomers. Exploiting the unexpected in inflow of refugees to Sweden during 2015 and their exogenous allocation across Swedish municipalities, I find that people living in municipalities where the relative number of refugees has been larger read fewer articles about asylum seekers. I then identify articles that may raise feelings of compassion towards the refugees. The decrease in information acquisition is 36 larger for such empathic articles.
Keywords: Information Avoidance, Refugee Crisis, Motivated Beliefs, Click Data
JEL Classification: A13, D64, D83, J15, L82
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