Economic Losers and Political Winners: Sweden's Radical Right

Ernesto Dal Bó (Berkeley University)
Frederico Finan (Berkeley University)
Olle Folke (Uppsala University)
Torsten Persson (Stockholm University)
Johanna Rickne (Stockholm University)

Abstract : We study the politicians and voters of Sweden's Radical Right. The rise of the Sweden Democrats is descriptively linked to macroeconomic events that magnified job insecurity and stagnated disposable incomes in large segments of the labor market. Negatively impacted groups entered politics to build the Sweden Democrats, and voting for the party concentrated in localities suffering larger impacts. Survey data suggest that economic anxiety may have triggered radical-right mobilization by weakening social and institutional trust among those with anti-immigrant preferences. We characterize the Sweden Democrats as a citizen-candidate movement that channeled inexperienced citizens from negatively impacted groups into politics. The party's entry shifted political selection for soft and hard valence traits in a negative direction.

How State-controlled Media Shapes Public Opinion? Experimental Evidence from Russia

Arturas Rozenas (NYU)
Denis Stukal (NYU)
Georiy Syunyaev (Columbia University)

Abstract : Growing evidence suggests that state-controlled media adopt various strategies to shape citizens' beliefs about its competence in dealing with the economy. But we do not know whether these efforts are effective in changing the attitudes of the citizens, and whose attitudes they affect the most and the least. We develop a model of information updating where citizens are uncertain about the credibility of the media source as well as the value of the policy defended on the state-controlled media. Following information from the media, citizens update simultaneously on the credibility of the media as well the value of the policy. The model allows us to identify citizens with prior profiles that make them the least and the most susceptible to state-controlled media. We then test the predictions of the model using a two-stage online experiment in Russia. In the first stage, we introduce treatments to manipulate priors about the media credibility and the value of the policy. In the second stage, we randomize exposure to news content from the state media voicing support for the recent pension reform in Russia.

The Effect of Neighborhoods on Voting Behavior

Alberto Simpser (ITAM)
Enrique Seira (ITAM)
Frederico Finan (UC Berkeley)

Abstract : Recent work has documented a dramatic effect of neighborhoods on various non-political outcomes, but the effect of local context on political behavior has not been rigorously established. We use panel data for twelve million voters in Mexico to study the effect of local context on individual voter turnout. We exploit variation in local context induced by citizens who move between the 2012 and 2015 national elections. We find that differences in average turnout between the origin and destination localities substantially influence a mover’s probability of turning out to vote subsequent to moving. We next try to adjudicate between mechanisms relating to selection, infrastructure, political party mobilization, and peer effects. Selection cannot easily account for the fact that a mover’s voting history influences average turnout behavior at the destination, nor for the robustness of the main result to restricting the analysis to citizens within a small geographical unit who move from one block to another. The results are also not due to distance to polling station, violence, and campaign spending. Our findings are strongly consistent with peer effects: movers adopt local norms over time, and these spill over to household members who did not move.