Ringvorlesung im Frühjahrssemester 2022

Economics, Politics, and the Media

Sie werden auch als „vierte Gewalt“ in demokratisch organisierten Gesellschaften bezeichnet: die Medien. Doch wie stark ist der Einfluss der Medien auf politische oder auch wirtschaftliche Entscheidungen und Ereignisse wirklich? Inwiefern formen sie unsere Haltung zu gewissen Themen, und welche Rolle nehmen soziale Medien in unserer Gesellschaft, bei politischen Trägern oder in der Wirtschaft ein? Um diesen Fragestellungen auf den Grund zu gehen, organisiert die Fachschaft VWL im Frühjahrssemester 2022 eine Reihe außercurricularer Veranstaltungen, in denen sich internationale Referentinnen und Referenten dem Themenfeld „Economics, Politics, and the Media“ widmen. Sie ermöglichen mit ihren Präsentationen und im Rahmen der anschließenden Diskussionen Einblicke in jüngste ökonomische Forschung rund um das Zusammenspiel von gesellschaftlichen und politischen Prozessen und Medien sowie ökonomischen Anreizen.

Nähere Informationen zu den Vortragenden, Themen und Terminen finden Sie im Folgenden sowie in den sozialen Kanälen der Fachschaft VWL. Studierende aller Fakultäten sowie externe Gäste sind zu allen Veranstaltungen herzlich eingeladen. Um an den Präsenzveranstaltungen teilnehmen zu können, gilt (Stand 24. Februar 2022) die 3G-Regel.

Dienstag, 15. März, 19.30 Uhr, Hörsaal SN 163:
Prof. Christian Ochsner, Ph.D. (CERGE-EI, Prag):
„Dying for mistrust? 1918-influenza mortality and the shift in health related statements and behavior“


Do societies learn from pandemic crisis and adapt their stated and revealed health-related behavior? To answer this question, we link overmortality during the 1918 influenza to the political support of compulsory vaccination and to vaccination behavior before and after the 1918 influenza. We rely on the 1922 popular vote in Grisons when Grisons’ voters have to decide about compulsory vaccination and on local smallpox vaccination campaigns from 1907 to 1933. We find that higher overmortality during the 1918 influenza reduces both the political support for compulsory vaccination and revealed vaccination against pediatric diseases, while vaccination hesitancy surged. By contrast, neither other popular votes nor pre-1918 vaccination behavior correlate with overmortality. An analysis of all popular votes around this time reveals that communities with high flu mortality became more skeptical towards healthcare claims and regulations while other political domains like infrastructure, law and order or education are not negatively affected by the influenza. Our results shed novel insight on the public reaction caused by to most deathly pandemic in recent centuries and discovers parallels to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Christian Ochsner is an Assistant Professor at CERGE-EI, Prague, and a Research Associate at SIAW-University of St. Gallen. He is holding a PhD from the TU Dresden and was employed as a Junior Economist at the ifo Institute for Economic Research – Dresden Branch and as a Research Fellow/Postdoc at the University of Zurich. His research looks at critical junctures in history and how they matter today. He uses quasi-experimental settings in history and combines econometric techniques and contextualization. His research links development economics, regional economics, political economy, and cultural economics. He is also starting to explore origins of differences in gender norms and behaviour.

Montag, 28. März, 19.30 Uhr, Hörsaal M 003:
Prof. Sergei Guriev, Ph.D. (Sciences Po, Paris):
“Spin dictators: The Changing Face of Tyranny in the 21st Century”


Hitler, Stalin, and Mao ruled through violence, fear, and ideology. But in recent decades a new breed of media-savvy strongmen has been redesigning authoritarian rule for a more sophisticated, globally connected world. In place of overt, mass repression, rulers such as Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Viktor Orbán control their citizens by distorting information and simulating democratic procedures. Like spin doctors in democracies, they spin the news to engineer support. Uncovering this new brand of authoritarianism, Sergei Guriev and Daniel Treisman explain the rise of such “spin dictators”, describing how they emerge and operate, the new threats they pose, and how democracies should respond.

Spin Dictators traces how leaders such as Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew and Peru’s Alberto Fujimori pioneered less violent, more covert, and more effective methods of monopolizing power. They cultivated an image of competence, concealed censorship, and used democratic institutions to undermine democracy, all while increasing international engagement for financial and reputational benefits. The book reveals why most of today’s authoritarians are spin dictators—and how they differ from the remaining “fear dictators” such as Kim Jong-un and Bashar al-Assad, as well as from masters of high-tech repression like Xi Jinping.

Offering incisive portraits of today’s authoritarian leaders, Spin Dictators explains some of the great political puzzles of our time—from how dictators can survive in an age of growing modernity to the disturbing convergence and mutual sympathy between dictators and populists like Donald Trump.


Sergei Guriev joined the Sciences Po as a tenured professor of economics in 2013 after running the New Economic School in Moscow from 2004 to 2013. From 2016 to 2019 he was on leave from Science Po serving as the Chief Economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Prof. Guriev´s research interests include political economics, development economics, labour mobility and contract theory.

Mittwoch, 6. April, 19.30 Uhr, digital live:
Prof. Davide Cantoni, Ph.D. (Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität, München):
Determinants of political participation: Evidence from Hong Kong’s antiauthoritarian movement (2015–2020)


In this talk, I will report on the results of a broad research agenda studying the determinants of political participation — in particular pro-democratic, or anti-authoritarian, activism — in the context of Hong Kong’s long fight for democracy. We first study, at a descriptive level, the socioeconomic correlates of participation in pro-democracy marches in the earlier years (2016). Next, I report the findings of a field experiment. We aim to study the strategic element in the decision to protest, viewing an individual's participation as a function of her beliefs about others’ turnout. Through a survey combined with an experimental intervention, we can identify the causal effects of beliefs about others' protest participation on subjects' own turnout. In contrast with the assumptions of many recent models, we consistently find evidence of strategic substitutability: subjects with higher expectations about others’ turnout are less likely to turn out themselves. Through a separate, later field experiment, we find that past participation in protest events is causally related to future participation, even though it does not directly affect beliefs and preferences. Finally, we show how the determinants of political participation have changed as the movement has transitioned from small marches to mass political protests in 2019–20.


Davide Cantoni is a professor of economics and economic history at the department of economics at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (Munich). His research spans political economy and economic history. He is the Principal Investigator for the European Research Council Starting Grant, in which they study the evolution of political movements in Hong Kong. His other research centers around the institutional development in Germany from the Middle Ages until 1900 and the political economy of education. After studies in Mannheim and Berkley, he graduated from Harvard University in 2010 and has been at the LMU since 2011. In 2019, he was awarded the Gossen Prize for the best young economist (under 45) in the German-speaking countries.

Mittwoch, 11. Mai, 19.30 Uhr, Hörsaal M 003:
Prof. Chris Roth, Ph.D. (Universität zu Köln):
“Justifying Dissent”


Dissent plays an important role in any society, but dissenters are often silenced through social sanctions. Beyond their persuasive effects, rationales providing arguments supporting dissenters’ causes can increase the public expression of dissent by providing a “social cover” for voicing otherwisestigmatized positions. Motivated by a simple theoretical framework, we experimentally show that liberals are more willing to post a Tweet opposing the movement to defund the police, are seen as less prejudiced, and face lower social sanctions when their Tweet implies they had first read scientific evidence supporting their position. Analogous experiments with conservatives demonstrate that the same mechanisms facilitate anti-immigrant expression. Our findings highlight both the power of rationales and their limitations in enabling dissent and shed light on phenomena such as social movements, political correctness, propaganda, and anti-minority behavior.


Chris Roth is a professor of economics and management at the University of Cologne and a member of the ECONtribute Cluster of Excellence. He received his PhD in Economics from the University of Oxford in 2018 and was an Assistant Professor at the University of Warwick until recently, where he did research at the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE). He is a Research Affiliate of the Institute on Behaviour and Inequality (briq). His research fields include Psychology and Economics, Political Economy and Macro-expectations.


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