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The inter-generational and social transmission of cultural traits : theory and evidence from smoking behavior

Author: Rebekka Christopoulou; Ahmed Jaber; Dean R Lillard; National Bureau of Economic Research.
Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2013.
Series: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 19304.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
The extant literature on cultural transmission takes competing cultures in society as given and parental cultural preferences as fixed. We relax these assumptions by endogenizing both societal and parental preferences. We use smoking as a case-study of a cultural trait which did not always exist, and which over time has switched from being perceived as socially acceptable to being perceived as undesirable. In our  Read more...
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Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Rebekka Christopoulou; Ahmed Jaber; Dean R Lillard; National Bureau of Economic Research.
OCLC Number: 855907084
Notes: Title from http://www.nber.org/papers/19304 viewed August 16, 2013.
"August 2013."
Description: 1 online resource (48 pages) : illustrations.
Series Title: Working paper series (National Bureau of Economic Research), no. 19304.
Responsibility: Rebekka Christopoulou, Ahmed Jaber, Dean R. Lillard.

Abstract:

The extant literature on cultural transmission takes competing cultures in society as given and parental cultural preferences as fixed. We relax these assumptions by endogenizing both societal and parental preferences. We use smoking as a case-study of a cultural trait which did not always exist, and which over time has switched from being perceived as socially acceptable to being perceived as undesirable. In our model, parents' preferred cultural traits depend on the perceived health costs of smoking, and societal preferences depend on the behavior of a tobacco industry that aims to maximize smoking prevalence. We derive conditions for the emergence and persistence of the smoking habit, and find new implications for the relationship between parental and societal influences. We then test explicitly for the validity of our theoretical framework using novel US data. We find that our framework is able to capture features of smoking behavior which existing models are unable to explain.

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