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The impact of mass media on public policy (MEDIA AND POLICY)
Start date: 01 Sep 2008, End date: 31 Aug 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

This project will study political economics issues, that is, how public policies are influenced by political considerations. The emphasis is on the mass media's role in shaping government policies. A smaller part will also analyze how different political institutions and economic outcomes influence policy and the impact of extreme weather events. The project will mainly be empirical, using statistical methods with a focus on identifying causal effects, rather than correlations. The study of media effects will analyze the political impact of having a press actively covering politics. This is an important issue, largely unanswered because the presence of an active press is endogenous to things like corruption and voter information. We will address this question in the special case of media coverage of US Congressional elections. To identify the effect of news, we will use the fact that the amount of coverage is driven to a large extent by the coincidental match between media markets and congressional districts. We intend to analyze the effect of active press coverage on, (i) voter information, (ii) politicians actions, and (iii) federal funds per capita. The project will also investigate how political institutions and economic outcomes influences the health impacts (such as mortality among old and infants) of weather extremes. Historical weather data at a very detailed geographical level will be combined with socio-economic data in a panel (longitudinal) form. This is joint work with meteorologists who will construct historical weather data at fine grids across the globe. The part dealing with structural political economics aims to develop a framework for investigating the effects of institutions on economic policy. In existing work, there is a disconnect between the theoretical modelling and empirical applications. The aim is to close this gap.
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