DP5674 Exposure to Foreign Media and Changes in Cultural Traits: Evidence from Naming Patterns in France

Author(s): Anne-CĂ©lia Disdier, Keith Head, Thierry Mayer
Publication Date: May 2006
Keyword(s): cinema, cultural transmission, endogenous tastes, popular music, television
JEL(s): D19, F15, Z10
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5674

Free trade in audio-visual services has faced opposition on the grounds that foreign media undermine domestic culture, and ultimately, global diversity. We assess the media-culture link using name frequencies as a measure of tastes. Using a 47-year panel of French birth registries, we first show that names appearing on television shows, movies, or in songs are about five times more popular than other names. Most, but not all, of this relationship arises from endogeneity: song and script writers, as well as performers and their parents, select names that would be popular anyways. Using name attributes, fixed effects, and lagged popularity as controls, our regression results suggest that media affect choices by informing parents of unfamiliar names.