Independent Media and Religiosity

109 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2021 Last revised: 6 Jul 2021

See all articles by Irena Grosfeld

Irena Grosfeld

Paris School of Economics

Etienne Madinier

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

Seyhun Orcan Sakalli

University of Lausanne

Ekaterina Zhuravskaya

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

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Date Written: June 9, 2021

Abstract

Can media affect religious behavior? We study the effect of a drastic change in media landscape on religious participation in Poland, a country, where vast majority of the population considers itself Catholics. Before 2015, news on mainstream public and private media outlets had a similar moderately-liberal slant. In 2015, a right-wing populist party Law and Justice (PiS) came to power and took control of the editorial policy of public media, introducing a substantial conservative pro-government and pro-Church bias in public-media broadcast. A private TV network, TVN, remained the main source of freely available independent-from-the-government news on the Polish television. In a difference-in-differences setting, we exploit spatial variation in TVN signal, sufficiently good for reception in about two-thirds of the country, and the overtime change in the content of the major state-owned TV network, which has good reception almost everywhere. We document that, after PiS came to power, religious participation fell more in municipalities with access to TVN compared to municipalities receiving only state TV signal. Using a large-scale online randomization experiment, we examine the effects of exposure to different types of content available only via independent media. We show that exposing both the pedophilia within the Church and the mutual financial and political support between the Church and the ruling PiS party decreases trust in religious institutions, but the effect of exposing pedophilia scandals is stronger. The experiment's results persist for at least three weeks.

Suggested Citation

Grosfeld, Irena and Madinier, Etienne and Sakalli, Seyhun Orcan and Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, Independent Media and Religiosity (June 9, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3863387 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3863387

Irena Grosfeld

Paris School of Economics ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014
France

Etienne Madinier

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

Seyhun Orcan Sakalli

University of Lausanne ( email )

BFSH1
Lausanne, 1015
Switzerland

Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (Contact Author)

Paris School of Economics (PSE) ( email )

48 Boulevard Jourdan
Paris, 75014 75014
France

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