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The Causal Effect of Watching TV on Material Aspirations: Evidence from the “Valley of the Innocent”

  • Walter Hyll
  • Lutz Schneider

The paper addresses the question of whether TV consumption has an impact on material aspirations. We exploit a natural experiment that took place during the period in which Germany was divided. Owing to geographical reasons, TV programs from the Federal Republic of Germany could not be received in all parts of the German Democratic Republic. Therefore, a natural variation occurred in exposure to West German television. We find robust evidence that watching TV is positively correlated with aspirations. Our identification strategy implies a causal relationship running from TV to aspirations. This conclusion resists various sets of alternative specifications and samples.

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Paper provided by Halle Institute for Economic Research in its series IWH Discussion Papers with number 8.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iwh:dispap:8-12
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  1. Robert Jensen & Emily Oster, 2009. "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1057-1094.
  2. Mitesh Kataria & Tobias Regner, 2009. "A note on the relationship between television viewing and individual happiness," Jena Economic Research Papers 2009-098, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  3. Easterlin, Richard A. & Plagnol, Anke C., 2008. "Life satisfaction and economic conditions in East and West Germany pre- and post-unification," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 433-444, December.
  4. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
  5. Bruno S. Frey & Christine Benesch & Alois Stutzer, 2005. "Does Watching TV Make Us Happy?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-15, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  6. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  7. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2005. "Income Aspirations, Television and Happiness: Evidence from the World Value Surveys," Working Papers 89, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2005.
  8. Robert Jensen & Emily Oster, 2007. "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India," NBER Working Papers 13305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2005. "Watching alone: Relational Goods, Television and Happiness," Working Papers 90, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2005.
  10. Bauernschuster, Stefan & Rainer, Helmut, 2011. "Political regimes and the family: How sex-role attitudes continue to differ in reunified Germany," Munich Reprints in Economics 20152, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  11. Stutzer, Alois, 2004. "The role of income aspirations in individual happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 89-109, May.
  12. Eliana La Ferrara & Alberto E. Chong, 2009. "Television and Divorce: Evidence from Brazilian Novelas," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6760, Inter-American Development Bank.
  13. Kern, Holger & Hainmueller, Jens, 2007. "Opium for the Masses: How Foreign Free Media Can Stabilize Authoritarian Regimes," MPRA Paper 2702, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Clark, Andrew E. & Senik, Claudia, 2009. "Who Compares to Whom? The Anatomy of Income Comparisons in Europe," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Docweb) 0907, CEPREMAP.
  15. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2009. "Income, Aspirations and the Hedonic Treadmill in a Poor Society," Economics Series Working Papers 468, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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