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Parents, Television and Cultural Change

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Abstract

This paper develops a model of cultural transmission where television plays a central role for socialization. Parents split their free time between educating their children, which is costly, and watching TV which though entertaining might socialize the children to the wrong trait. The free to air television industry maximizes advertisement revenue. We show that TV watching is increasing in cultural coverage, cost of education, TV’s entertainment value and decreasing in the perceived cultural distance between the two traits. A monopolistic television industry captures all TV watching by both groups if the perceived cultural distance between groups is small relative to the TV’s entertainment value. Otherwise, more coverage will be given to the most profitable group where profitability increases in group size, advertisement sensitivity and perceived cultural distance. This leads to two possible steady states where one group is larger but both groups survive in the long run. Competition in the media industry might lead to cultural extinction but only if one group is very insensitive to advertisement and not radical enough not to watch TV. We briefly discuss the existing evidence for the empirical predictions of the model.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy in its series CSEF Working Papers with number 280.

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Date of creation: 05 Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:280

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Keywords: television; socialization; cultural trait dynamics; media coverage;

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  1. Eliana La Ferrara & Alberto Chong & Suzanne Duryea, 2008. "Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence from Brazil," Research Department Publications 4573, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  2. Disdier, Anne-Célia & Head, Charles Keith & Mayer, Thierry, 2006. "Exposure to Foreign Media and Changes in Cultural Traits: Evidence from Naming Patterns in France," CEPR Discussion Papers 5674, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. 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.
  4. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234, 08.
  5. Peitz, Martin & Valletti, Tommaso, 2004. "Content and Advertising in the Media: Pay-TV versus Free-To-Air," CEPR Discussion Papers 4771, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Sáez-Martí, María & Sjögren, Anna, 2005. "Peers and Culture," Working Paper Series 642, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  7. Ana Cardoso & Elsa Fontainha & Chiara Monfardini, 2010. "Children’s and parents’ time use: empirical evidence on investment in human capital in France, Germany and Italy," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 479-504, December.
  8. repec:reg:wpaper:126 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. repec:fth:iniesr:564 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Alberto Chong & Eliana La Ferrara, 2009. "Television and Divorce: Evidence from Brazilian Novelas," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 458-468, 04-05.
  11. Crawford, Gregory S. & Cullen, Joseph, 2007. "Bundling, product choice, and efficiency: Should cable television networks be offered a la carte?," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 379-404, October.
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