Media's Role in the Making of a Democrat: Evidence from East Germany

49 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2020

See all articles by Tim Friehe

Tim Friehe

University of Marburg

Helge Müller

University of Marburg

Florian Neumeier

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

This paper explores the causal influence of media content on voting behavior. We exploit a natural experiment involving access to West German TV within the German Democratic Republic. Focusing on federal and state election outcomes in the post-reunification decade (i.e., a time at which TV content was harmonized), we find that municipalities that had access to Western TV broadcasts before reunification have lower vote shares for left-wing and right-wing extremist parties. With regard to potential channels, we provide evidence based on survey data that GDR citizens with access to West German TV were less loyal to the socialist regime, less hostile toward foreigners, and exhibited higher levels of social capital. Our findings thus support the notion that access to free media influences political attitudes and facilitates the consolidation of democracy.

Keywords: voting, extremism, television, media, natural experiment, Germany

JEL Classification: D720, L820, P300

Suggested Citation

Friehe, Tim and Müller, Helge and Neumeier, Florian, Media's Role in the Making of a Democrat: Evidence from East Germany (2019). CESifo Working Paper No. 7485, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3338840

Tim Friehe (Contact Author)

University of Marburg ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 24
D-35032 Marburg, D-35032
Germany

Helge Müller

University of Marburg ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 24
D-35032 Marburg, D-35032
Germany

Florian Neumeier

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

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