Horacio Larreguy

  Friday, 17th May 2024

  14:00 - 16:00

   Senior Common Room - Nuffield College

   Misinformation, Distrust, and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from the Effect of Russian Misinformation in Latvia


There is growing misinformation, especially in health and politics, and suggestive evidence indicates that its economic implications might be concerning. We study the consequences of misinformation by the Russian government aimed at eroding trust in and destabilizing Western governments in the former Soviet Union since the fall of the Iron Curtain. We exploit the Western vaccines (AstraZeneca and Janssen)’ safety scandals related to blood clots exploited by the Russian misinformation machine to erode trust in Western vaccines and governments, and rich data on early COVID-19 vaccine take up and the location of ethnic-Russian minorities in Latvia. In particular, we conduct a difference-in-differences design to assess the differential effect of such scandals on such minorities, who have been historically more susceptible to Russian misinformation and thus exhibit great skepticism towards the Latvian government’s public policies. Our results indicate a significant negative differential effect on vaccine take-up following the scandals in Latvian municipalities with a greater proportion of ethnic Russians. Moreover, these effects are reversed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.