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Electoral importance and media consumption: quasi-experimental evidence and new data from India

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Abstract: What are the determinants of news media consumption? In this paper, we investigate whether it is determined by political motives. We build a new panel dataset on Indian publications at the city level between 2002 and 2017. We exploit the 2008 delimitation of the Assembly Constituencies – an exogenous change in the electoral importance of cities across India – to causally identify the relationship between relative electoral importance and news media consumption. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we compare change in the supply and demand of news of cities whose electoral importance increased compared to cities whose electoral importance did not. We show that media markets whose electoral importance increases see an increase in their total newspaper circulation per capita. We discuss how this political motive can be decomposed into media supply and media demand.

Authors: Julia Cage, Sciences Po Paris and CEPR, Guilhem Cassan, University of Namur, CRED and CEPR, Francesca R. Jensenius, University of Oslo and Norwegian Institute of International Affairs

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