Weekly Economics Seminar by Ruben Enikolopov
February 24 @ 6:30 pm - 7:40 pm
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Title: Social Media and Xenophobia: Evidence from Russia [link to paper]
Speaker:Ruben Enikolopov, Professor, New Economic School, Moscow
Abstract: We study the causal effect of social media on ethnic hate crimes and xenophobic attitudes in Russia using quasi-exogenous variation in social media penetration across cities. Higher penetration of social media led to more ethnic hate crimes, but only in cities with a high pre-existing level of nationalist sentiment. Consistent with a mechanism of coordination of crimes, the effects are stronger for crimes with multiple perpetrators. We implement a national survey experiment and show that social media persuaded young and low-educated individuals to hold more xenophobic attitudes, but did not increase their openness to expressing these views. Our results are consistent with a simple model of social learning where penetration of social networks increases individuals’ propensity to meet like-minded people.