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It's the Media, Stupid - How Media Activity Shapes Public Spending

Bruns, Christian and Himmler, Oliver (2007): It's the Media, Stupid - How Media Activity Shapes Public Spending.

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Abstract

Politicians seeking reelection need voters to know what they have done for them. Thus, incentives may arise to spend more money where media coverage is higher. We present a simple model to explain the allocation of public spending across jurisdictions contingent on media activity. An incumbent seeking to maximize the probability of reelection will shift more money to jurisdictions where an extra dollar gains more votes because a larger share of the electorate is informed about his policy. This prediction is tested using US data on county-level public spending, Designated Market Areas (DMAs) and location of licensed television stations. Instrumenting for the possible endogeneity of media activity to public spending, 2SLS results confirm a positive effect of media coverage on county-level public spending. Spatial regression rules out the possibility of confounding media effects with spatial autocorrelation.

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