Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Mass Media and Social Change: Can We Use Television to Fight Poverty?

Author(s): Eliana La Ferrara

Publication Date: November 2015

Keyword(s): edutainment, soap operas and television

Programme Area(s): Development Economics and Public Economics

Abstract: This paper explores the potential use of entertainment media programs for achieving development goals. I propose a simple framework for interpreting media effects that hinges on three channels: (i) information provision, (ii) role modeling and preference change, and (iii) time use. I then review the existing evidence on how exposure to commercial television and radio affects outcomes such as fertility preferences, gender norms, education, migration and social capital. I complement these individual country studies with cross-country evidence from Africa and with a more in-depth analysis for Nigeria, using the Demographic Health Surveys. I then consider the potential educational role of entertainment media, starting with a discussion of the psychological underpinnings and then reviewing recent rigorous evaluations of edutainment programs. I conclude by highlighting open questions and avenues for future research.

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Bibliographic Reference

La Ferrara, E. 2015. 'Mass Media and Social Change: Can We Use Television to Fight Poverty?'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.