Discussion paper

DP14877 Social Media and Xenophobia: Evidence from Russia

We study the causal effect of social media on ethnic hate crimes and xenophobic attitudes in Rus- sia and the mechanisms underlying this effect, using quasi-exogenous variation in social media penetration across cities. Higher penetration of social media led to more hate crimes 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. Using a national survey experiment, we also find evidence of a mechanism of persuasion: social media led individuals (especially young, male, and less-educated ones) to hold more xenophobic attitudes.


Bursztyn, L, G Egorov, R Enikolopov and M Petrova (2020), ‘DP14877 Social Media and Xenophobia: Evidence from Russia‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 14877. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14877