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Media coverage and immigration worries: Econometric evidence

This paper empirically explores the link between mass media coverage of migration and immigration worries.

Using detailed data on media coverage in Germany, we show that the amount of media reports regarding migration issues is positively associated with concerns about immigration among the German population. This association is strongest when immigrants are the protagonists of media reports. The established relationship is robust to the inclusion of time-variant individual control variables and individual fixed-effects.

We address endogeneity concerns by employing media spillovers from the neighboring country of Switzerland, which occur due to referendum decisions on immigration, as an instrumental variable. The IV estimates suggest that media coverage has a causal impact on immigration worries.

The effect of media coverage persists even when worries concerning unemployment, crime or the level of xenophobia are accounted for. Exploring subgroups of respondents reveals that the link between coverage and immigration worries is particularly relevant for women and respondents who are not active in the workforce.

C. Benesch, S. Loretz, D. Stadelmann, T. Thomas, Media coverage and immigration worries: Econometric evidence, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 160 (2019) 52-67.

Tobias Thomas

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