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Vaccine Hesitancy and Fake News: Quasi-experimental Evidence from Italy

Vincenzo Carrieri (), Leonardo Madio () and Francesco Principe ()

Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers from HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York

Abstract: The spread of fake news and misinformation on social media is blamed to be one of the main causes of vaccine hesitancy, one of the ten threats to global health according to World Health Organization. This paper studies the effect of diffusion of fake news on immunization rates in Italy by exploiting a quasi-experiment occurred in 2012, when the Court of Rimini officially recognized a causal link between MMR vaccine and autism and awarded injury compensation. To this end, we exploit virality of fake news following the 2012 Italian Court’s ruling along with the intensity in the exposure to non-traditional media driven by regional infrastructural differences in Internet broadband coverage. Using a Difference-in-Difference (DiD) regression on regional panel data, we show that the spread of fake news caused a drop in children immunization rates for all types of vaccines.

Keywords: fake news; vaccine hesitancy; children immunization rates, social media, internet (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 I18 L82 L86 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur, nep-hea and nep-soc
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Journal Article: Vaccine hesitancy and (fake) news: Quasi‐experimental evidence from Italy (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Vaccine hesitancy and (fake) news: quasi experimental evidence from Italy (2019)
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