NBER

Aakaash Rao

Harvard University
Department of Economics
Littauer Center of Public Administration
1805 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: 5129248016

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Harvard University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2020Misinformation During a Pandemic
with Leonardo Bursztyn, Christopher P. Roth, David H. Yanagizawa-Drott: w27417
Media outlets often present diverging, even conflicting, perspectives on reality — not only informing, but potentially misinforming audiences. We study the extent to which misinformation broadcast on mass media at the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic influenced health outcomes. We first document large differences in content between the two most popular cable news shows in the US, both on the same network, and in the adoption of preventative behaviors among viewers of these shows. Through both a selection-on-observables strategy and an 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 an epidemiological model highlighting the role of externa...
May 2020I Have Nothing Against Them, But. . .
with Leonardo Bursztyn, Ingar K. Haaland, Christopher P. Roth: w27288
We study the use of excuses to justify socially stigmatized actions, such as opposing minority groups. Rationales to oppose minorities change some people’s private opinions, leading them to take anti-minority actions even if they are not prejudiced against minorities. When these rationales become common knowledge, prejudiced people who are not persuaded by the rationale can pool with unprejudiced people who are persuaded. This decreases the stigma associated with anti-minority expression, increasing public opposition to minority groups. We examine this mechanism through several large-scale experiments in the context of anti-immigrant behavior in the United States. In the first main experiment, participants learn about a study claiming that immigrants increase crime rates and then choose wh...

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