Cross-Country Trends in Affective Polarization

44 Pages Posted: 22 Jan 2020 Last revised: 16 May 2021

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: January 2020

Abstract

We measure trends in affective polarization in nine OECD countries over the past four decades. The US experienced the largest increase in polarization over this period. Three countries experienced a smaller increase in polarization. Five countries experienced a decrease in polarization. These findings are most consistent with explanations of polarization based on changes that are more distinctive to the US (e.g., changing party composition, growing racial divisions, the emergence of partisan cable news), and less consistent with explanations based on changes that are more universal (e.g., the emergence of the internet, rising economic inequality).

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Suggested Citation

Boxell, Levi and Gentzkow, Matthew and Shapiro, Jesse M., Cross-Country Trends in Affective Polarization (January 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26669, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3522318

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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