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The Effect of Partisanship and Political Advertising on Close Family Ties

M. Keith Chen and Ryne Rohla

Papers from arXiv.org

Abstract: Research on growing American political polarization and antipathy primarily studies public institutions and political processes, ignoring private effects including strained family ties. Using anonymized smartphone-location data and precinct-level voting, we show that Thanksgiving dinners attended by opposing-party precinct residents were 30-50 minutes shorter than same-party dinners. This decline from a mean of 257 minutes survives extensive spatial and demographic controls. Dinner reductions in 2016 tripled for travelers from media markets with heavy political advertising --- an effect not observed in 2015 --- implying a relationship to election-related behavior. Effects appear asymmetric: while fewer Democratic-precinct residents traveled in 2016 than 2015, political differences shortened Thanksgiving dinners more among Republican-precinct residents. Nationwide, 34 million person-hours of cross-partisan Thanksgiving discourse were lost in 2016 to partisan effects.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-pol
Date: 2017-11, Revised 2018-06
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Published in Science, 01 June 2018: Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 1020-1024

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