nep-cul New Economics Papers
on Cultural Economics
Issue of 2009‒02‒07
three papers chosen by
Roberto Zanola
University of the Piemonte Orientale

  1. The Emergence of Musical Copyright in Europe By Scherer, F. M.
  2. Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution By Luttmer, Erzo F. P.; Singhal, Monica
  3. Culture formation and endogenous cultural distance By Michael M. Pichler

  1. By: Scherer, F. M. (Harvard U)
    Abstract: This paper, written for a conference of the Society for Economic Research on Copyright Issues, explores the history of copyright protection for musical compositions. The first modern copyright law did not cover musical works. The role of Johann Christian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Johann Neopmuk Hummel in securing legal changes is traced. How Giuseppe Verdi exploited the new copyright law in Northern Italy is analyzed. The paper argues that Verdi, enriched by copyright protection, reduced his compositional effort along a backward-bending supply curve. However, his good fortune may have had a demonstration effect inducing other talented individuals to become composers. An attempt to determine the impact of legal changes on entry into composing is inconclusive. The paper shows, however, that a golden age of musical composition nevertheless occurred in nations that lacked copyright protection for musical works.
    Date: 2008–10
  2. By: Luttmer, Erzo F. P. (Harvard U); Singhal, Monica (Harvard U)
    Abstract: Is culture an important determinant of preferences for redistribution? To separate the effect of culture from the effect of the economic and institutional environment ("context"), we relate immigrants' preferences for redistribution to the average preference in their birth countries, controlling extensively for individual characteristics and country-of-residence fixed effects. We find a strong positive relationship. This cultural effect is larger for non-voters, those with shorter tenure in the country of residence, and those who move to countries with a large number of immigrants from their own birth countries. Immigrants from countries with a higher preference for redistribution are also more likely to vote for a more proredistribution political party. The effect of culture persists strongly into the second generation.
    JEL: D72 H23 Z10
    Date: 2008–08
  3. By: Michael M. Pichler (Institute of Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University)
    Abstract: This paper introduces a new approach to `cultural transmission of preferences' (see Bisin and Verdier, 2000, 2001). It is based on the conceptualization of the culture of a person as a set of cultural values and attitudes, represented as an n-dimensional tuple in Euclidean space. The culture of a person is formed through social learning and imitation from role-models, which correspond to the chosen `displayed cultures' of parents (`vertical transmission') and the society at large (`oblique transmission'). Parents might choose a `displayed culture' that does not coincide with their true culture, since they aim at countervailing negative cultural in uences that their children are exposed to in the society at large. Additionally, they can invest into the success that their displayed culture has in the socialization process of their children. We will consider in the present paper an OLG model with two cultural groups, and where in any period, the members of each of the cultural groups have identical culture. We show that if parents have a desire for cultural closeness to their children (e.g. `imperfect empathy'), then they will always behave culturally more `radical' relative to the culture of the other cultural group. Furthermore, they will always invest into their socialization success. Nevertheless, these investments are never su.cient to let the distance between the future cultures of the children of both cultural groups be larger or equal than the cultural distance of the parental generation. As a consequence, the cultures of both groups converge to a homogeneous steady state culture, which can be interpreted as a mixture of the two initial cultures. This result corresponds to the `melting pot' theory of integration of cultural groups.
    Keywords: cultural transmission, socialization
    Date: 2008–11

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