DP9416 The Economic Incentives of Cultural Transmission: Spatial Evidence from Naming Patterns across France

Author(s): Yann Algan, Clément Malgouyres, Thierry Mayer, Mathias Thoenig
Publication Date: April 2013
Date Revised: November 2020
Keyword(s): Culture, Social Interaction
JEL(s): J3, Z1
Programme Areas: Public Economics, International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=9416

This paper studies how economic incentives influence cultural transmission, using a crucial expression of cultural identity: Child naming decisions. Our focus is on Arabic versus Non-Arabic names given in France over the 2003-2007 period. Our model of cultural transmission features three determinants: (i) vertical (parental) cultural transmission culture; (ii) horizontal (neighborhood) influence; (iii) information on the economic penalty associated with Arabic names. We find that economic incentives largely influence naming choices: Would the parental expectation on the economic penalty be zero, the annual number of babies born with an Arabic name would be more than 50 percent larger.