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1984 or the Brave New World? Evidence from a Field Experiment on Media Cens...

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32L.G.20

Ground Floor, 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH.

United Kingdom

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You are cordially invited to the second of the Behavioural Science Hub Seminars happening in May.

Speaker: David Yang, PhD Candidate in Economics, Stanford University https://stanford.edu/~dyang1/

Abstract: Media censorship is considered as the hallmark of authoritarian regimes, but cost to access uncensored information is typically low. Why don’t citizens acquire uncensored information? What is the impact if they become exposed to uncensored information? We conduct a field experiment among 1,800 university students in China, cross-randomizing the provision of: (i) tools to bypass censorship over the course of 18 months for free; and (ii) temporary incentives to encourage consuming uncensored information. We measure and trace students’ media consumption, beliefs regarding media, as well as a broad range of economic beliefs, political attitudes and behaviors. We find that censorship successfully prevents information consumption not only by restricting supply of information, but also by suppressing demand as students underestimate the value of uncensored information. A period of exposure to uncensored information can persistently change students beliefs regarding media, resulting in a lasting increase in their exposure. Exposure makes students more informed, more pessimistic of the economy, more critical of the government, and less likely to invest in the Chinese stock market. Despite the large impact, the current censorship apparatus in China would remain effective, given the low demand for information, and the moderate degree of social spillover of information that we estimate.


Venue: 32L.G.20, Ground Floor, 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH.

Time and date: 12:30-13:30 Tuesday 30th May 2017

A sandwich lunch will be provided.

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32L.G.20

Ground Floor, 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH.

United Kingdom

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