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Kenan Institute 2024 Grand Challenge: Business Resilience
Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
Dec 8, 2022

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Sociopolitical Activism, and Economic Consequences: The Tucker Carlson Effect


With growing prominence of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) issues, we witness enhanced scrutiny of the public stance and statements of organizational actors. For example, two such statements by Tucker Carlson, known for his primetime show on Fox News, one on immigration (2018) and the other on the Black Lives Matter (2020) movement, pushed nongovernmental organizations, such as Media Matters, to sociopolitical activism by putting pressures on advertisers to boycott the show. This mingling of DEI, sociopolitical activism, and associated economic effects raises a critical research question: what is the economic consequence of DEI stances that arouse sociopolitical activism and what are the underlying mechanisms for the economic consequences? For the purpose, the current study gathers multisource data from Kantar Media and Nielsen TV, then applies a Bayesian synthetic difference-in-differences method to estimate the economic consequences of the two DEI statements by Carlson that elicited sociopolitical activism. The results indicate that Carlson’s show lost advertising revenue in 2018 but not in 2020. Mechanism analyses show that following the 2018 event, both the duration of the advertisement and the number of advertisements on the Carlson show decreased, along with the cost of the advertisement, leading to a loss of advertising revenue. A supplementary analysis suggests that advertisers became politically aligned with Carlson’s ideology after the 2018 event, likely buffering advertising losses in 2020. The cost of advertising decreased following the 2020 event, but revenues remained the same as the duration of advertisements per show increased. These findings highlight the economic consequences of DEI stances that organizational actors take that elicit sociopolitical activism.

Note: Research papers posted on SSRN, including any findings, may differ from the final version chosen for publication in academic journals.  

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