Other (Visualization, Public Opinion Formation and more)

Public Opinion Formation

  • with Florian Foos. “When the Sun stopped shining: Identifying the effects of right-wing media consumption on public opinion towards immigration.”

Are changes in citizens’ attitudes towards immigration and EU-integration endogeneous to campaigns by right-wing media outlets? The question to what extent public opinion is a consequence, rather than a cause of different media environments is difficult to answer because citizens self-select into consuming specific media. Moreover, news outlets have incentives to both follow and create public opinion. We use a unique natural experiment in the United Kingdom — the wide-spread boycott of the most important right-wing tabloid newspaper, the Sun, in working-class Merseyside as a direct consequence of the 1989 Hillsborough football disaster — to identify the effects of consuming the Sun on attitudes towards immigration and EU-integration. We show that the Sun’s coverage of this specific event caused a sharp decline in Sun readership in Merseyside (but not elsewhere), and a corresponding increase in readership of the Liverpool Echo, a left-leaning tabloid. Using the synthetic control method and yearly British Social Attitudes data on support for immigration and EU-integration, we compare public opinion in parliamentary constituencies based in Merseyside to public opinion in parliamentary constituencies in “synthetic” Merseyside in the years before and after the Hillsborough disaster. The results of this paper have important implications for our understanding of media effects, and public opinion formation, and suggest that elite failure to effectively counter a right-wing media campaign may have been key to losing the support of working-class communities for important liberal policies.

Data Visualization

While stata’s computational capabilities have intensively increased over the last decade, the quality of its default figure schemes are still a matter of debate amongst users. Clearly some of the arguments speaking against stata figures are subject to individual taste, but others are not. The two schemes introduced here attempt to solve the major shortcomings of stata’s default figure schemes. Furthermore, the schemes come with 21 new colors, with seven colors being distinguishable for people suffering from colorblindness.