Political ignorance and the internet

Bertschek, Irene ; Müller, David F.

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-620286
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2021
The title of a journal, publication series: ZEW Discussion Papers
Volume: 21-106
Place of publication: Mannheim
Publication language: English
Institution: Sonstige Einrichtungen > ZEW - Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung
Außerfakultäre Einrichtungen > Graduate School of Economic and Social Sciences - CDSB (Business Studies)
MADOC publication series: Veröffentlichungen des ZEW (Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung) > ZEW Discussion Papers
Subject: 330 Economics
Classification: JEL: D80 , O33,
Keywords (English): internet , information cost , indifference index , political ignorance
Abstract: We examine the link between Internet usage and political ignorance. We construct a novel Index as a direct measure of individuals’ indifference with respect to political issues which determines the degree of individual political ignorance. Our econometric analysis is based on a rich data set consisting of six surveys of individuals covering the time period 2001 to 2014 and being representative for the German electorate. The empirical results show that in the earlier years of Internet diffusion there is a negative link between using the Internet and political ignorance. This link changes sign in later years of Internet diffusion. We discuss potential explanations of this observed change in the link such as nformation overload and the increase in heterogeneity of Internet users.

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