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The Economic Incentives of Cultural Transmission: Spatial Evidence from Naming Patterns across France

Author

Listed:
  • Yann Algan

    (Département d'économie)

  • Thierry Mayer

    (Département d'économie)

  • Mathias Thoenig

    (Centre Universitaire d'Informatique)

Abstract

This paper aims at studying how economic incentives influence cultural transmission. We do so in the context of naming decisions, a crucial expression of cultural identity. Our focus is on Arabic versus Non-Arabic names given by parents to their newborn babies in France over the 2003-2007 period. Our model of cultural transmission disentangles between three determinants: (i) vertical transmission of parental culture; (ii) horizontal influence from the neighborhood; (iii) economic penalty associated with names that sound culturally distinctive. Our identification is based on the sample of households being exogenously allocated across public housings dwellings. We find that economic incentives largely influence naming choices: In the absence of economic penalty, the annual number of babies born with an Arabic name would have been more than 50 percent larger. Our theory-based estimates allow us to perform a welfare analysis where we gauge the strength of cultural attachment in monetary units. We find that the vertical transmission of an Arabic name provides the same shift in parents' utility as a 3% rise in lifetime income of the child.

Suggested Citation

  • Yann Algan & Thierry Mayer & Mathias Thoenig, 2013. "The Economic Incentives of Cultural Transmission: Spatial Evidence from Naming Patterns across France," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/bakbbitll86, Sciences Po.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpmain:info:hdl:2441/bakbbitll86c9mofo099uih8m
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin, 2007. "Close Neighbours Matter: Neighbourhood Effects on Early Performance at School," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(523), pages 1193-1215, October.
    2. Emmanuel Duguet & Noam Leandri & Yannick L'horty & Pascale Petit, 2010. "Are Young French Jobseekers of Ethnic Immigrant Origin Discriminated Against? A Controlled Experiment in the Paris Area," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 99-100, pages 187-215.
    3. Keith Head & Thierry Mayer, 2008. "Detection Of Local Interactions From The Spatial Pattern Of Names In France," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 67-95.
    4. Claire L. Adida & David D. Laitin & Marie-Anne Valfort, 2010. "Identifying barriers to Muslim integration in France," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00618060, HAL.
    5. repec:hrv:faseco:30726298 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Christopher D. Carroll & Byung-Kun Rhee & Changyong Rhee, 1994. "Are There Cultural Effects on Saving? Some Cross-Sectional Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(3), pages 685-699.
    7. Train,Kenneth E., 2009. "Discrete Choice Methods with Simulation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521747387.
    8. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/10161 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Battaglia, Marianna & Chabé-Ferret, Bastien & Lebedinski, Lara, 2017. "Segregation and Fertility: The Case of the Roma in Serbia," IZA Discussion Papers 10929, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Stepan Jurajda & Dejan Kovac, 2016. "What's in a Name in a War," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp573, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economics Institute, Prague.
    3. Algan, Yann & Hémet, Camille & Laitin, David D., 2011. "Diversity and Public Goods: A Natural Experiment with Exogenous Residential Allocation," IZA Discussion Papers 6053, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Alberto Alesina & Bryony Reich, 2013. "Nation Building," NBER Working Papers 18839, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Pedro Carneiro & Sokbae Lee & Hugo Reis, 2015. "Please call me John: name choice and the assimilation of immigrants in the United States, 1900-1930," CeMMAP working papers CWP28/15, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    6. Chabé-Ferret, Bastien, 2016. "Adherence to Cultural Norms and Economic Incentives: Evidence from Fertility Timing Decisions," IZA Discussion Papers 10269, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Costanza Biavaschi & Corrado Giulietti & Zahra Siddique, 2013. "The Economic Payoff of Name Americanization," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2013-08, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    8. Yann Algan & Camille Hémet & David D. Laitin, 2016. "The Social Effects of Ethnic Diversity at the Local Level: A Natural Experiment with Exogenous Residential Allocation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(3), pages 696-733.
    9. Costanza Biavaschi & Corrado Giulietti & Zahra Siddique, 2017. "The Economic Payoff of Name Americanization," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(4), pages 1089-1116.
    10. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2016. "Cultural Assimilation during the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 22381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Rachel E. Kranton, 2016. "Identity Economics 2016: Where Do Social Distinctions and Norms Come From?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(5), pages 405-409, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic incentives; Cultural transmission; Cultural identity; Name;

    JEL classification:

    • D19 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Other
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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