The Persuasive Effect of Fox News: Non-Compliance with Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

69 Pages Posted: 17 May 2020 Last revised: 30 Jul 2020

See all articles by Andrey Simonov

Andrey Simonov

Columbia University - Columbia Business School

Szymon Sacher

Columbia University, Department of Economics

Jean-Pierre Dubé

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Shirsho Biswas

University of Washington - Michael G. Foster School of Business; University of Chicago

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 28, 2020

Abstract

We test for and measure the effects of cable news in the US on regional differences in compliance with recommendations by health experts to practice social distancing during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. We use a quasi-experimental design to estimate the causal effect of Fox News viewership on stay-at-home behavior by using only the incremental local viewership due to the quasi-random assignment of channel positions in a local cable line-up. We find that a 10% increase in Fox News cable viewership (approximately 0.13 higher viewer rating points) leads to a 1.3 percentage point reduction in the propensity to stay at home. We find a persuasion rate of Fox News on non-compliance with stay-at-home behavior during the crisis of about 5.7%-28.4% across our various social distancing metrics.

Keywords: Media persuasion, misinformation, COVID-19, advice discounting

JEL Classification: D72, L82, I12, I18

Suggested Citation

Simonov, Andrey and Sacher, Szymon and Dube, Jean-Pierre H. and Biswas, Shirsho, The Persuasive Effect of Fox News: Non-Compliance with Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic (July 28, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3600088 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3600088

Andrey Simonov (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Columbia Business School ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Szymon Sacher

Columbia University, Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Jean-Pierre H. Dube

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://gsb.uchicago.edu/fac/jean-pierre.dube

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Shirsho Biswas

University of Washington - Michael G. Foster School of Business ( email )

Box 353200
Seattle, WA 98195-3200
United States

University of Chicago ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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