U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research: Polarisation not caused by the Internet

Findings of the American National Election Study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, suggest that the Internet does not play a significant role in rising indicators of polarisation. The research points out that polarisation has mostly risen among respondents aged 75 and older (with 0.38 points since 1996), while there is only a marginal increase among under-40 adults (0.05 points). According to the study’s authors, ‘These findings argue against the hypothesis that the internet in general or social media in particular are the main drivers of increasing polarization’, as ‘any such explanation needs to account for the rapid increase in polarization among those with limited internet use and negligible use of social media’.