DP10738 The Political Legacy of Entertainment TV

Author(s): Ruben Durante, Paolo Pinotti, Andrea Tesei
Publication Date: July 2015
Keyword(s): entertainment, Italy, political participation, television, voting
JEL(s): D72, L82, Z13
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=10738

We study the political impact of entertainment television in Italy exploiting the staggered introduction of Berlusconi's commercial TV network, Mediaset, in the early 1980s. We find that individuals with early access to Mediaset all-entertainment content were more likely to vote for Berlusconi's party in 1994, when he first ran for offce. The effect persists for five elections and is driven by heavy TV viewers, namely the very young and the elders. Regarding possible mechanisms, we find that individuals exposed to entertainment TV as children were less cognitively sophisticated and civic-minded as adults, and ultimately more vulnerable to Berlusconi's populist rhetoric.