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Dining Out as Cultural Trade

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  • Joel Waldfogel

Abstract

Perceptions of Anglo-American dominance in movie and music trade motivate restrictions on cultural trade. Yet, the market for another cultural good, food at restaurants, is roughly ten times larger than the markets for music and film. Using TripAdvisor data on restaurant cuisines, along with Euromonitor data on overall and fast food expenditure, this paper calculates implicit trade patterns in global cuisines for 52 destination countries. We obtain three major results. First, the pattern of cuisine trade resembles the “gravity” patterns in physically traded products. Second, after accounting gravity factors, the most popular cuisines are Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and American. Third, excluding fast food, the largest net exporters of their cuisines are the Italians and the Japanese, while the largest net importers are the US – with a 2017 deficit of over $130 billion – followed by Brazil, China, and the UK. With fast food included, the US deficit shrinks to $55 billion but remains the largest net importer along with China and, to a lesser extent, the UK and Brazil. Cuisine trade patterns appear to run starkly counter to the audiovisual patterns that have motivated concern about Anglo-American cultural dominance.

Suggested Citation

  • Joel Waldfogel, 2019. "Dining Out as Cultural Trade," NBER Working Papers 26020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26020
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    Cited by:

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    2. Lorenzo Kihlgren Grandi, 2023. "Branding, Diplomacy, and Inclusion: The Role of Migrant Cuisines in Cities’ Local and International Action," Societies, MDPI, vol. 13(7), pages 1-18, June.

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    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • L66 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Food; Beverages; Cosmetics; Tobacco

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