Results for “Jesse Shapiro”
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Jesse Shapiro on media bias

Here is the Slate summary, which includes a link to the paper.  Excerpt:

1) If a media outlet cares about its reputation for accuracy, it
will be reluctant to report anything that counters the audiences’
existing beliefs because such stories will tend to erode the company’s
standing. Newspapers and news programs have a visible incentive to
"distort information to make it conform with consumers’ prior beliefs."

2) The media can’t satisfy their audiences by merely reporting
what their audience wants to hear. If alternative sources of
information prove that a news organization has distorted the news, the
organization will suffer a loss of reputation, and hence of profit. The
authors predict more bias in stories where the outcomes aren’t realized for some time (foreign war reporting, for example) and less bias where the outcomes are immediately apparent (a weather forecast or a sports score). Indeed, almost nobody accuses the New York Times or Fox News Channel of slanting their weather reports.

Here is my earlier TCS piece on media bias.

Wednesday assorted links

Polarization of political talk is definitely going up

Matthew Gentzkow, Jesse Shapiro, and Matt Taddy have a new NBER paper Measuring Polarization in High-Dimensional Data: Method and Application to Congressional Speech.

We study trends in the partisanship of Congressional speech from 1873 to 2009. We define partisanship to be the ease with which an observer could infer a congressperson’s party from a fixed amount of speech, and we estimate it using a structural choice model and methods from machine learning. The estimates reveal that partisanship is far greater today than at any point in the past. Partisanship was low and roughly constant from 1873 to the early 1990s, then increased dramatically in subsequent years. Evidence suggests innovation in political persuasion beginning with the Contract with America, possibly reinforced by changes in the media environment, as a likely cause. Naive estimates of partisanship are subject to a severe finite-sample bias and imply substantially different conclusions.

It seems this move toward polarization starts around the time of Newt Gingrich and the Contract with America, and it starts with the Republican Party.  It remains an open question, however, how much this corresponds to greater polarization in more concrete terms.  To some extent symbolic polarization may substitute for the ever-diminishing ability of politicians to disagree about how to allocate discretionary spending.  Let them eat ideology!

The IMF picks 25 top young economists

The list is here, I wonder how young is young, in any case overall a very good set of names.  Other than Piketty and Rey, they all teach in the United States.  John List is one person I would have added, Jesse Shapiro is another, plus I dare them to try out their judgment on someone who is not at a top ten school and then track how that person does over time.

Who else is missing?

Addendum: the original IMF link is here.

Matthew Gentzkow wins the Clark medal

The citation is here:

Matthew Gentzkow has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the economic forces driving the creation of media products, the changing nature and role of media in the digital environment, and the effect of media on education and civic engagement.

Matt is at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago and there is much more at that link.  Here is Matt at  Matt’s well-known paper on ideological segregation, with Jesse Shapiro, is here (pdf).  Our class on the economics of the media at considers Matt’s work, for instance see this video on ideological segregation.

Here is A Fine Theorem on the Bayesian persuasion paper.

An excellent choice, of course, and hearty congratulations are in order.

Assorted links

1. Do sex ratios affect bird behavior?  And moody lizards.

2. The Brazilian gun library.

3. The (homoerotic) culture that is Finland.  Note that the link is itself…homoerotic.  And the Indian Supreme Court recognizes transgender as a third gender.

4. Excellent Jesse Shapiro slides on how to give an applied micro talk (pdf).  It starts with: “Your audience does not care about your topic.  You have one or two slides to change their minds.”  And the short list for the Clark medal, Jesse is on it.

5. NYT profile of Peter Chang.

6. The problems of Singapore.

7. Scott Sumner on Larry Summers.

How should economists write code?

From Matt Gentzkower and Jesse Shapiro (pdf), addressed to their RAs:

Every step of every research project we do is written in code, from raw data to final paper. Doing research is therefore writing software.

Over time, people who write software for a living have learned a lot about how to write it well. We follow their lead. We aim to write code that would pass muster if we worked at Google or Microsoft.

For the pointer I thank Bo Cowgill.

The political slants of the news diets of media figures

Jesse Shapiro and Matt Gentzow start off their short note as follows:

We use data from comScore,Mediamark Research & Intelligence (MRI), and The AtlanticWire “Media Diet” to study the news diets of media figures such as David Brooks and Tyler Cowen.

This is what they find:

Tyler Cowen’s news diet is relatively liberal: 45.7 percent of users of the average news outlet he visits are conservative.

This means that Cowen’s news diet is more conservative than 11 percent of all Internet users, and 8 percent of all media figures interviewed by the Atlantic Wire.

David Brooks’ news diet is relatively conservative: 60.4 percent of users of the average news outlet he visits are conservative. This means that Brooks’ news diet is more conservative than 74 percent of all Internet users and 72 percent of all media figures interviewed by the Atlantic Wire.

pp.3-4 in the paper offer the measurements for other media figures, including Jeff Goldberg, Felix Salmon, Marc Ambinder, and David Frum.

What do you think?  Do the more conservative commentators have a more conservative media diet?  Which factors determine the political slant of the media diet of a public intellectual?  Does it matter, for instance, where you were born?  I'll predict that conservatives who grew up in the Northeast are more likely to spend a lot of time with The New York Times than conservatives from the South.

Here is a previous MR post on this line of research by the authors.

How politically segregated are the networks of the internet?

For all the complaints you hear, internet reading is much less segregated than the networks of our work, family, and friends (all given formal measurements in the paper).  Jesse Shapiro and Matt Gentzkow report:

We use individual and aggregate data to ask how the Internet is changing the ideological segregation of the American electorate. Focusing on online news consumption, offline news consumption, and face-to-face social interactions, we define ideological segregation in each domain using standard indices from the literature on racial segregation. We find that ideological segregation of online news consumption is low in absolute terms, higher than the segregation of most offline news consumption, and significantly lower than the segregation of face-to-face interactions with neighbors, co-workers, or family members. We find no evidence that the Internet is becoming more segregated over time.

Here are some details:

The average Internet news consumer’s exposure to conservatives is 57 percent, slightly to the left of the US adult population. The average conservative’s exposure is 60.6 percent, similar to a person who gets all her news from The average liberal’s exposure is 53.1 percent, similar to a person who gets all her news from The isolation index for the Internet is 7.5 percentage points, the difference between the average conservative’s exposure and the average liberal’s exposure.

News consumers with extremely high or low exposure are rare. A consumer who got news exclusively from would have a more liberal news diet than 95 percent of Internet news users, and a consumer who got news exclusively from would have a more conservative news diet than 99 percent of Internet news users.

…Visitors of extreme conservative sites such as and are more likely than a typical online news reader to have visited

This is one of the best papers on on-line media.

Do economists think TV is good for you?

In a nutshell, yes:

The variation Mr. Gentzkow
and Mr. Shapiro exploited was the timing of the introduction of TV into
different cities. Television began taking off in the U.S. in 1946,
after a wartime ban on TV production was lifted. But the Federal
Communications Commission stopped granting new commercial television
licenses from September 1948 to April 1952 while it made changes in
allocating broadcast spectrum. There was a long lag between when some
cities got television and when others did.

The economists then
looked at results of a survey of 800 U.S. schools that administered
tests to 346,662 sixth-grade, ninth-grade and 12th-grade students in
1965. Their finding: Adjusting for differences in household income,
parents’ educational background and other factors, children who lived
in cities that gave them more exposure to television in early childhood
performed better on the tests than those with less exposure.

economists found that television was especially positive for children
in households where English wasn’t the primary language and parents’
education level was lower. "We don’t exactly know why that is, but a
plausible interpretation is that the effect of television on cognitive
development depends on what other kinds of activity television is
substituting for," says Mr. Shapiro, 28.

Here is much more.  And yes the "Mr. Shapiro" is in fact Wunderkind Jesse Shapiro, a familiar figure to MR readers everywhere.  You’ll find two versions of the paper here.

Addendum: Here is Alex’s excellent post on the topic.

Assortative mating

Last month the New York Times’ David Leonhardt published a fascinating article, listing 13 young (untenured) in his piece The Future of Economics Isn’t So Dismal… 

Of the 13 up-and-coming academic economists, six are married to each other.  For example, Chicago’s Emily Oster is married to fellow Chicago economist Jesse Shapiro.  Not only that, Dr Oster is the daughter of two economists, Yale’s Ray Fair and Sharon Oster.  Talk about keeping it in the family.  The other two couples were MIT’s Amy Finkelstein and Harvard’s Benjamin Olken, and Berkeley’s Ulrike Malmendier, and Stefano DellaVigna.

Wharton’s Justin Wolfers,
by the way, has a partner with a PhD in economics from Harvard, who
worked for two Federal Reserve banks and who is now an Assistant
Professor of Business and Public Policy at Wharton: Betsey Stevenson.  So that means over half (7 out of 13) of the rising US economic stars have an economist as partner.

Here is the link.

Does “doing time” harden prisoners?

Wunderkind Jesse Shapiro says yes:

Some two million Americans are currently incarcerated, with roughly six hundred thousand to be released this year.  Despite this, little is known about the effects of confinement conditions on the post-release lives of inmates.  In this paper we estimate the causal effect of prison conditions on recidivism rates by exploiting a discontinuity in the assignment of federal prisoners to security levels, and find that harsher prison conditions lead to significantly more post-release crime.  We check our identifying assumptions by showing that similar discontinuities do not arise in a control population housed separately from other inmates, and that predetermined correlates of recidivism do not change discretely around score cutoffs.  We argue our findings may have important implications for prison policy, and that our methodology is likely to be applicable beyond the particular context we study.

Here is the paper.  The authors also argue that these peer effects appear large, relative to the deterrence effects of sending people to nasty prisons.  Here is a good recent article on the prison economy.

Is “media bias” just good business?

Austan Goolsbee writes (no permalink yet) of Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro, and their paper “What Drives Media Slant? Evidence From U.S. Daily Newspapers“.  The non-gated version is here.

In essence the authors measure how much newspapers use key partisan phrases like "personal accounts" for social security privatization and compare the vocabularies of those newspapers to the vocabularies of partisan politicians.  The political slant of newspapers is then matched to campaign contributions in the zip codes those newspapers serve.  Shapiro sums up the result:

The data suggest that newspapers are targeting their political slant
to their customers’ demand and choosing the amount of slant that will
maximize their sales. 

It also turns out that the political views of the paper’s owner have no effect on the slant of the paper.

Here is my previous post on wunderkind Jesse Shapiro.  He remains the best Youngling out there.  Here is an earlier piece I wrote on media bias.

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