Television Role Models and Fertility: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

In this paper we study the effect of television exposure on fertility. We exploit a natural experiment that took place in Germany after WWII. For topographical reasons, Western TV programs, which promoted one/no child families, could not be received in certain parts of East Germany. Using an IV approach, we find robust evidence that watching West German TV results in lower fertility. This conclusion is robust to alternative model specifications and data sets. Our results imply that individual fertility decisions are affected by role models or information about other ways of life promoted by media.

08. June 2015

Authors Peter Bönisch Walter Hyll

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