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CEP/STICERD Applications Seminars

The Birth of a Nation: media and racial hate

Desmond Ang (Harvard University)

Monday 02 November 2020 16:00 - 17:30


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About this event

This paper documents the short- and long-run impacts of popular media on racial hate. I do so in the context of the first American blockbuster: the 1915 film "The Birth of a Nation," a racist retelling of the Civil War and Reconstruction lionizing the then-defunct Ku Klux Klan. Exploiting the staggered distribution of the film's "road show", I find a sharp increase in lynchings coinciding with the movie's arrival in a county. To examine long-run effects, I instrument for whether the film was shown in an area using information on the historical stock of movie theaters. I find that treated areas were significantly more likely to participate in the rebirth of the KKK during the 1920s. These areas continue to experience higher prevalence of hate crimes and hate groups nearly a century later.

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This series is part of the CEP's Labour Markets programme.