Essays in Empirical Political Economics

Pfeufer, Christoph Michael (2022) Essays in Empirical Political Economics, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Economics, 33 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/10333.
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This thesis takes two perspectives on political institutions. From the one side, it examines the long-run effects of institutions on cultural values. From the other side, I study strategic communication, and its determinants, of politicians, a pivotal actor inside those institutions. The first chapter provides evidence for the legacy of feudalism - a set of labor coercion and migration restrictions -, on interpersonal distrust. I combining administrative data on the feudal system in the Prussian Empire (1816 – 1849) with the geo-localized survey data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1980 – 2020). I show that areas with strong historical exposure to feudalism have lower levels of inter-personal trust today, by means of OLS- and mover specifications. The second chapter builds a novel dataset that includes the Twitter handles of 18,000+ politicians and 61+ million tweets from 2008 – 2021 from all levels of government. I find substantial partisan differences in Twitter adoption, Twitter activity and audience engagement. I use established tools to measure ideological polarization to provide evidence that online-polarization follows similar trends to offline-polarization, at comparable magnitude and reaches unprecedented heights in 2018 and 2021. I develop a new tool to demonstrate a marked increase in affective polarization. The third chapter tests whether politicians disseminate distortive messages when exposed to bad news. Specifically, I study the diffusion of misleading communication from pro-gun politicians in the aftermath of mass shootings. I exploit the random timing of mass shootings and analyze half a million tweets between 2010 – 2020 in an event-study design. I develop and apply state-of-the-art text analysis tools to show that pro- gun politicians seek to decrease the salience of the mass shooting through distraction and try to alter voters’ belief formation through misrepresenting the causes of the mass shootings.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Pfeufer, Christoph Michael
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
political economics, cultural persistence, historical persistence, trust, social media, machine-learning, text-analysis
Data di discussione
29 Giugno 2022

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