Exposure to foreign media and changes in cultural traits: Evidence from naming patterns in France
endogenous tastes, cultural transmission, television, cinema, popular music
Free trade in audio-visual services has faced opposition on the grounds that foreign media undermine domestic culture, and ultimately, global diversity. Using a long panel of French birth registries, we assess the media-culture link using name frequencies as a measure of tastes. Controlling for the number of people who currently have a name and unobserved name effects, our regressions show that media influences choices via selective imitation. Parents are much more likely to adopt media names that they associate with youth. Using estimated parameters, we simulate our model of name choice to reveal that, absent foreign media, less than 5% of French babies would have been named differently. Our simulations also suggest a positive effect of foreign media on the welfare of parents.