481/2020 Leonardo Bursztyn, Akaash Rao, Christopher Roth and David Yanagizawa-Drott
We study the effects of COVID-19 coverage early in the pandemic by the two most popular cable news shows in the US, both on Fox News, on health outcomes. We 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 an epidemiological model highlighting the role of externalities and provide evidence that misinformation is a key underlying mechanism.
Culture and Development