Electoral Competition with Fake News

28 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2019 Last revised: 27 Feb 2023

See all articles by Gene M. Grossman

Gene M. Grossman

Princeton University - Princeton School of Public and International Affairs; Princeton University - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Elhanan Helpman

Harvard University

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2019

Abstract

Misinformation pervades political competition. We introduce opportunities for political candidates and their media supporters to spread fake news about the policy environment and perhaps about parties' positions into a familiar model of electoral competition. In the baseline model with full information, the parties' positions converge to those that maximize aggregate welfare. When parties can broadcast fake news to audiences that disproportionately include their partisans, policy divergence and suboptimal outcomes can result. We study a sequence of models that impose progressively tighter constraints on false reporting and characterize situations that lead to divergence and a polarized electorate.

Suggested Citation

Grossman, Gene M. and Helpman, Elhanan, Electoral Competition with Fake News (October 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26409, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3476489

Gene M. Grossman (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Princeton School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

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Elhanan Helpman

Harvard University ( email )

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