Misinformation During a Pandemic

118 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2020

See all articles by Leonardo Bursztyn

Leonardo Bursztyn

University of Chicago - Department of Economics

Aakaash Rao

Harvard University, Department of Economics

Christopher Roth

University of Warwick, Faculty of Social Studies, Department of Economics, Students

David Yanagizawa-Drott

University of Zurich

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2020

Abstract

We study the effects of COVID-19 coverage early in the pandemic by the two most widely-viewed cable news shows in the United States – Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight, both on Fox News – on downstream health outcomes. We first document large differences in content between the shows and in cautious behavior among viewers. Through both a selection-on-observables strategy and a novel instrumental variable approach, we find that areas with greater exposure to the show downplaying the threat of COVID-19 experienced a greater number of cases and deaths. We assess magnitudes through a simple epidemiological model highlighting the role of externalities and provide evidence that misinformation is a key underlying mechanism.

Suggested Citation

Bursztyn, Leonardo and Rao, Aakaash and Roth, Christopher and Yanagizawa-Drott, David, Misinformation During a Pandemic (June 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27417, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3632644

Leonardo Bursztyn (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 E. 59th St
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Aakaash Rao

Harvard University, Department of Economics ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138

HOME PAGE: http://aakaashrao.github.io

Christopher Roth

University of Warwick, Faculty of Social Studies, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Coventry, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

David Yanagizawa-Drott

University of Zurich ( email )

Schönberggasse 1
Zürich, MA ZH 8001
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://Econ.uzh.ch

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