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Detection of local interactions from the spatial pattern of names in France

  • Keith Head

    (Sauder - Sauder School of Business [British Columbia] - University of British Columbia)

  • Thierry Mayer


    (CEPR - Center for Economic Policy Research - CEPR, CEPII - Centre d'Etudes Prospectives et d'Informations Internationales - Centre d'analyse stratégique, PSE - Paris School of Economics, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Using data on name distributions in 95 French d'epartements 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 neighboring 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 HAL in its series Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) with number hal-00266554.

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Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Journal of Regional Science, Wiley, 2008, 48 (1), pp.67-95. <10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.00548.x>
Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:hal-00266554
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2007.00548.x
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  1. 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.
  2. Brock,W.A. & Durlauf,S.N., 2000. "Discrete choice with social interactions," Working papers 7, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  3. 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.
  4. Bisin, A. & Verdier, T., 1997. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and the Dynamics of Preferences," DELTA Working Papers 97-03, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  5. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 1999. "Externalities and Cities," Annual Meeting Plenary 1999-3, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. 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.
  7. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
  8. Durlauf, Steven N., 2004. "Neighborhood effects," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, in: J. V. Henderson & J. F. Thisse (ed.), Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 50, pages 2173-2242 Elsevier.
  9. Anne-Célia Disdier & Keith Head, 2004. "The Puzzling Persistence of the Distance Effect on Bilateral Trade," Development Working Papers 186, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
  10. Keith Head & Thierry Mayer, 2000. "Non-Europe: The magnitude and causes of market fragmentation in the EU," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 136(2), pages 284-314, June.
  11. David N. Figlio, 2005. "Names, Expectations and the Black-White Test Score Gap," NBER Working Papers 11195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. 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.
  13. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose A. Scheinkman, 1999. "Measuring Social Interactions," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1878, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  14. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 767-805.
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