nep-cul New Economics Papers
on Cultural Economics
Issue of 2010‒09‒18
four papers chosen by
Roberto Zanola
University Amedeo Avogadro

  1. Cultural Formation of Preferences and Assimilation of Cultural Groups By Michael M. Pichler
  2. Racial Bias in Expert Quality Assessment: A Study of Newspaper Movie Reviews By Lona Fowdur; Vrinda Kadiyali; Jeffrey T. Prince
  3. Thinking in Chinese vs. Thinking in English: Social Preference and Risk Attitudes of Multicultural Minds By Li King King
  4. Blame-Games, the Media and Discretionary Behaviour of Bureaucrats By Paul A. Raschky

  1. By: Michael M. Pichler (Institute of Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University)
    Abstract: Based on the cultural formation of continuous preferences framework of Pichler (IMW Working Paper No. 431, 2010), this paper analyzes the evolution of preferences and behavior in a two cultural groups setting. We show that the qualitative dynamic properties depend crucially on what parents perceive as the optimal preferences for their children to adopt. Under inter– generationally fixed optimal preferences, the preferences of the cultural groups will always stay distinct. If the optimal preferences coincide with those derived from the representative group behavior, then a multitude of convergence path types can realize. These contain both an inter–generational assimilation process toward the same preference point, as well as inter–generational dissimilation.
    Keywords: Continuous Preferences, Assimilation, Cultural Groups, Endogenous Preferences, Preference Evolution, Socialization
    JEL: C72 J13 Z13
    Date: 2010–08
  2. By: Lona Fowdur (Economists, Inc.); Vrinda Kadiyali (Cornell University); Jeffrey T. Prince (Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, Indiana University Kelley School of Business)
    Abstract: Newspaper critics' movie reviews are often used by potential movie viewers as signals of expert quality assessment. In this paper, we assess if there is any racial bias in these critics' reviews, and if so, what impact these biases have on viewer demand. To do this, we develop a dataset that tracks ratings from 68 popular movie critics for 566 movies released in the U.S. between 2003 and 2007. The data also include measures of movie production costs, marketing expenditures, type of movie (i.e. genre, MPAA rating, etc.), actor and director quality measures, audience tastes and critics' gender, experience and race. Despite inclusion of all these controls for movie quality and other drivers of critic ratings, we find that ratings for movies with a black lead actor and all white supporting cast are approximately 6% lower than for other racial compositions. These results appear consistent with implicit discrimination. Using estimates of the impact of critics' ratings on movie revenues, we find that lower critic ratings for black lead-white support movies translate into lost revenues of up to 4% or about $2.57 million on average. In sum, prejudice concerning race roles (e.g., the race of the leader versus supporters/followers) can have a direct impact on critic quality assessment, and thereby alter market outcomes.
    Keywords: racial bias, quality assessment, expert ratings, movies
    JEL: J15
    Date: 2009–10
  3. By: Li King King (Strategic Interaction Group, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena)
    Abstract: This paper investigates whether language priming activates different cultural identities and norms associated with the language communicated; bilingual subjects are given Chinese instructions in the Chinese treatment and English instructions in the English treatment. The main findings are: (1) in social preference games involving strategic interactions, e.g., the trust game, subjects in the Chinese treatment are more trusting and trustworthy than in the English treatment. However, (2) in individual choice games about social preference, such as the dictator game, while there is no treatment difference, subjects exhibit in-group favoritism only in the Chinese treatment. Further, (3) subjects in the Chinese treatment expect others to be more risk seeking, and prefer to pick Chinese lucky numbers in a lottery game. These findings support the hypothesis that languages are associated with cultural frames and that communicating in a particular language increases the cognitive accessibility of norms associated with that language.
    Keywords: Identity, cross-cultural differences, language, bilingual, biculture, social preference, risk attitudes
    JEL: C91 D81 Z10
    Date: 2010–09–13
  4. By: Paul A. Raschky
    Abstract: This paper investigates the negative effect of media reports on the provision of public goods by bureaucratic agencies. I provide a simple career concerns model where negative publicity in the media can affect the bureaucrat's future wage. The proposition of the model is tested using data of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' spending on flood protection from 1968-2008.
    Keywords: Theory of Bureaucracy, Blame-Shifting, Natural Hazards
    JEL: D72 D73 Q54
    Date: 2010–05

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