2020/04: Does the internet change attitudes towards immigrants? Evidence from Spain
In this paper, I empirically evaluate the effect of exposure to the Internet on Spanish attitudes towards immigrants. Exploiting a confidential, innovative survey dataset, I am able to identify a relationship between Internet access and attitudes towards immigrants at the micro (municipal) level. I address the endogeneity of Internet availability by looking at pre-existing voice telecommunication characteristics and using outcome variables before and after the arrival of the Internet. Results show that Internet availability between 2008 and 2012 is associated with a better knowledge of (national) immigration dynamics and that it leads to an overall improvement in attitudes towards immigrants. This result is particularly strong among young and urban individuals. Additionally, I find that access to the Internet reduces political support for the Partido Popular, Spain’s traditional right-wing party.