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Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence from Brazil

  • Chong, Alberto
  • Duryea, Suzanne
  • La Ferrara, Eliana

What are the effects of television, and of role models portrayed in TV programs, on individual behavior? We focus on fertility choices in Brazil, a country where soap operas (novelas) portray families that are much smaller than in reality. We exploit differences in the timing of entry into different markets of Rede Globo, the network that has an effective monopoly on novelas production in this country. Using Census data for the period 1970-1991, we find that women living in areas covered by the Globo signal have significantly lower fertility. The effect is strongest for women of lower socioeconomic status and for women in the central and late phases of their fertility cycle, consistent with stopping behavior. The result is robust to placebo treatments and does not appear to be driven by selection in Globo entry. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that novelas, and not just television, affected individual choices. First, people living in areas covered by the signal were more likely to name their children after novela characters. Second, entry of a network that relied on imported shows did not have a significant impact on fertility.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6785.

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Date of creation: Apr 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6785
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  1. Carmen Elisa Florez & Jairo Núñez, 2002. "Teenage Childbearing In Latin American Countries," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 003547, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
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  3. David Lam & Suzanne Duryea, 1999. "Effects of Schooling on Fertility, Labor Supply, and Investments in Children, with Evidence from Brazil," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(1), pages 160-192.
  4. Gordon Dahl & Stefano DellaVigna, 2007. "Does Movie Violence Increase Violent Crime?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001778, David K. Levine.
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  7. Joseph Potter & Carl Schmertmann & Suzana Cavenaghi, 2002. "Fertility and development: evidence from Brazil," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(4), pages 739-761, November.
  8. Manuelita Ureta & Carlos Filgueira & Naercio Aquino Menezes-Filho & Suzanne Duryea & Richard Obuchi & Lykke E. Andersen & Fernando Filgueira & Josefina Bruni Celli & Carmen Elisa Flórez & Jairo Núñez , 2003. "Critical Decisions at a Critical Age: Adolescents and Young Adults in Latin America," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 42598 edited by Manuelita Ureta & Alejandra Cox Edwards & Suzanne Duryea, April.
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  10. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2000. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 28, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  11. Alberto Chong & Eliana La Ferrara, 2009. "Television and Divorce: Evidence from Brazilian Novelas," Research Department Publications 4611, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  12. David Strömberg, 2004. "Radio's Impact on Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 189-221, February.
  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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