You are here: Home Seminar 2020/21 Winter Term ONLINE – Applied Micro Workshop – David Yanagizawa-Drott, “Going Viral: Propaganda and the Dynamics of Contagion in 1932 Hamburg”

ONLINE – Applied Micro Workshop – David Yanagizawa-Drott, “Going Viral: Propaganda and the Dynamics of Contagion in 1932 Hamburg”

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Marcel Caesmann, Bruno Caprettini, Hans-Joachim Voth, and David Yanagizawa-Drott: “Going Viral: Propaganda and the Dynamics of Contagion in 1932 Hamburg” We pursue the simple idea that propaganda is powerful because information and beliefs can spread like a virus, whereby it initially persuades some exposed individuals and then multiplies through social interactions. Using granular panel data from Hamburg, we first construct a proxy for social interactions using data on the spread of the Spanish Flu across neighborhoods in 1918. We validate this virus-based measure as a stable proxy for social connections by showing its strong correlation with homophily measures in administrative data more than a decade later. We then turn to studying the effectiveness of propaganda efforts by the Nazi Party in 1932—a key year in its rise to mainstream popularity. In particular, we examine the impact of party members marching through the streets of the city, detailing which neighborhoods were exposed and, in turn, which neighborhoods were socially connected to those exposed. Using panel data across multiple election rounds, we find evidence that: 1) the exposed were immediately persuaded, voting more strongly in favor of the Nazi party only days later; and 2) the socially connected to those exposed were subsequently persuaded, with stronger Nazi support in elections months later. We test whether the dynamic effects of propaganda are similar for exposed versus non-exposed and reject that they are: growing support over time is driven by social connections among the non-exposed. Together, our results show that propaganda efforts by extremists can be effective through a “multiplier” mechanism arising dynamically from social interactions.

Event details
What
  • Presentation
When Oct 27, 2020
from 16:00 to 17:30
Where Zoom URL TBA via mailing list
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