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

Author

Listed:
  • Yann Algan
  • Thierry Mayer
  • Mathias Thoenig

Abstract

This paper aims at studying how economic incentives influence cultural transmission. We do so in the context of naming decisions, a crucial expression of cultural identity. Our focus is on Arabic versus Non- Arabic names given by parents to their newborn babies in France over the 2003-2007 period. Our model of cultural transmission disentangles between three determinants: (i) vertical transmission of parental culture; (ii) horizontal influence from the neighborhood; (iii) economic penalty associated with names that sound culturally distinctive. Our identification is based on the sample of households being exogenously allocated across public housings dwellings. We find that economic incentives largely influence naming choices: In the absence of economic penalty, the annual number of babies born with an Arabic name would have been more than 50 percent larger. Our theory-based estimates allow us to perform a welfare analysis where we gauge the strength of cultural attachment in monetary units. We find that the vertical transmission of an Arabic name provides the same shift in parents’ utility as a 3% rise in lifetime income of the child.

Suggested Citation

  • Yann Algan & Thierry Mayer & Mathias Thoenig, 2013. "The Economic Incentives of Cultural Transmission: Spatial : Spatial Evidence from Naming Patterns across France," Working Papers 2013-25, CEPII research center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2013-25
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Battaglia, Marianna & Chabé-Ferret, Bastien & Lebedinski, Lara, 2017. "Segregation and Fertility: The Case of the Roma in Serbia," IZA Discussion Papers 10929, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Stepan Jurajda & Dejan Kovac, 2016. "What's in a Name in a War," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp573, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    3. Pedro Carneiro & Sokbae Lee & Hugo Reis, 2015. "Please call me John: name choice and the assimilation of immigrants in the United States, 1900-1930," CeMMAP working papers CWP28/15, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    4. Chabé-Ferret, Bastien, 2016. "Adherence to Cultural Norms and Economic Incentives: Evidence from Fertility Timing Decisions," IZA Discussion Papers 10269, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2016. "Cultural Assimilation during the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 22381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Rachel E. Kranton, 2016. "Identity Economics 2016: Where Do Social Distinctions and Norms Come From?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 405-409, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cultural transmission; Choice of first names;

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General

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