The Causal Effect of Watching TV on Material Aspirations: Evidence from the “Valley of the Innocent”
The paper addresses the question of whether TV consumption has an impact on material aspirations. We exploit a natural experiment that took place during the period in which Germany was divided. Owing to geographical reasons, TV programs from the Federal Republic of Germany could not be received in all parts of the German Democratic Republic. Therefore, a natural variation occurred in exposure to West German television. We find robust evidence that watching TV is positively correlated with aspirations. Our identification strategy implies a causal relationship running from TV to aspirations. This conclusion resists various sets of alternative specifications and samples.