Parents, Television and Cultural Change


  • We thank the editor Andrea Galeotti, three anonymous referees, Stefano DellaVigna, Andrea Prat, Pasquale Schiraldi and seminar participants at the University of Kent, the MOVE Workshop of Social Economics (Barcelona) and the 8th CSEF-IGIER Symposium in Economics and Institutions (Capri) for useful comments. This research was started when both authors were visiting the economics department of the LSE, whom we thank for its hospitality. Hauk acknowledges financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, through the Severo Ochoa Programme for Centres of Excellence in R&D (SEV-2011-0075) and through CICYT project number ECO2012-37065 and from the government of Catalonia.


We develop a model of cultural transmission where television plays a role in socialisation. We study the coverage of different cultural traits by a profit-maximising TV industry and the resulting cultural dynamics. A monopolist covers both traits, but grants more coverage to the most profitable group. In a competitive TV industry each channel specialises on one trait. This might lead to cultural extinction, but only for sufficiently large majorities. Cultural extinction is more likely in a competitive than in a monopolistic TV industry. Overall our model predicts that cultural extinction can only occur under very special circumstances.