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Detection of Local Interactions from the Spatial Pattern of Names in France

  • Head, Keith
  • Mayer, Thierry

Using data on name distributions in 95 French departments observed from 1946 to 2002, we investigate spatial and social mechanisms behind the transmission of parental preferences. Drawing inspiration from recent work on social interactions, we develop a simple discrete choice model that predicts a linear relationship between choices by agents in one location and the choices made in neighbouring areas. We explain the shares of parents that give their children Saint, Arabic, and American-type names. In a second exercise we examine the effect of distance between locations on differences in name-type shares. In our last exercise we consider dissimilarity in actual names rather than name-types. Using Manhattan Distances as our metric, we find a steady and substantial decline in the importance of geographic distance. Meanwhile, differences in class and national origins have increasing explanatory power.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6340.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6340
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  1. Disdier, Anne-Célia & Head, 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.
  2. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  4. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2002. "A Multinomial-Choice Model of Neighborhood Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 298-303, May.
  5. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2003. "Are emily and greg more employable than lakisha and jamal? A field experiment on labor market discrimination," Natural Field Experiments 00216, The Field Experiments Website.
  6. Keith Head & Thierry Mayer, 2004. "Non-Europe : the magnitude and causes of market fragmentation in the EU," Cahiers de la Maison des Sciences Economiques bla99004a, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1).
  7. Bisin, Alberto & Verdier, Thierry, 2001. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 298-319, April.
  8. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1999. "Measuring Social Interactions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1878, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  9. Anne-Célia Disdier & Keith Head, 2008. "The Puzzling Persistence of the Distance Effect on Bilateral Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(1), pages 37-48, February.
  10. David N. Figlio, 2005. "Names, Expectations and the Black-White Test Score Gap," NBER Working Papers 11195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Durlauf,S.N., 2003. "Neighborhood effects," Working papers 17, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  12. Brock, William A & Durlauf, Steven N, 2001. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(2), pages 235-60, April.
  13. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 767-805, August.
  14. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2001. "Externalities and Cities," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(2), pages 245-274, April.
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