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Exposure to Television and Individual Beliefs: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Tanja Hennighausen

Abstract

Does the information provided by mass media have the power to persistently affect individual beliefs about the drivers of success in life? To answer this question empirically, this contribution exploits a natural experiment on the reception of West German television in the former German Democratic Republic. After identifying the impact of Western television on individual beliefs and attitudes in the late 1980s, longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel is used to test the persistence of the television effect on individual beliefs during the 1990s. The empirical findings indicate that Western television exposure has made East Germans more inclined to believe that effort rather than luck determines success in life. Furthermore, this effect still persists several years after the German reunification.

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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) in its series SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research with number 535.

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Length: 39 p.
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwsop:diw_sp535

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Keywords: media; beliefs; East Germany; SOEP;

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  1. Marc Suhrcke & UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund, 2001. "Preferences for Inequality: East vs. West," Innocenti Working Papers inwopa01/17, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre.
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  8. Bursztyn, Leonardo & Cantoni, Davide, 2012. "A Tear in the Iron Curtain: The Impact of Western Television on Consumption Behavior," Discussion Papers in Economics 13949, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  10. Kern, Holger & Hainmueller, Jens, 2007. "Opium for the Masses: How Foreign Free Media Can Stabilize Authoritarian Regimes," MPRA Paper 2702, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Rafael Di Tella & Sebastian Galiani & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2007. "The Formation of Beliefs: Evidence from the Allocation of Land Titles to Squatters," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 209-241, 02.
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  13. Robert Jensen & Emily Oster, 2009. "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1057-1094, August.
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