American_Idol - American Idol: Evidence on Same-Race...

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Unformatted text preview: American Idol: Evidence on Same-Race Preferences October 16, 2008 Abstract This paper examines whether viewers of the popular television show, American Idol , ex- hibit racial preferences. We find evidence on same-race preferences among black viewers only; when there are more black contestants in the show, more black viewers are tuned in to watch it. The finding is robust after we account for the endogeneity problem re- garding the contestants’ racial composition, which arises due to the voting mechanism. Our point estimate tells that a 10 percentage point increase in the proportion of black contestants increases viewership ratings for black households by 1.3 percentage points. The results are robust after we control for the “color” of songs. Keywords: Racial Preferences, Same-Race Preferences, TV Viewership Ratings, Voting. 1 1 Introduction There are a number of empirical studies across disciplines on racial preferences, particularly “same-race preferences” – one favors others of his or her own race. In an early study, Hraba and Grant (1970) found, replicating the well-known doll experiment of Clark and Clark (1947), that children prefer a doll of their own color. Same-race preferences are also found in inter- personal relationships, such as high-school friendship (Hallinan and Williams, 1989), dating (Fisman, Iyengar, Kamenica and Simonson, 2008), and marriage (Wong, 2004). Holzer and Ihlanfeldt (1998) found that the racial composition of customers affects the race of new hires since business owners accommodate consumers’ racial preferences, which is consistent with Becker’s (1971) prediction that consumer preferences may give rise to racial discrimination. This paper examines whether viewers of the television show, American Idol , exhibit same- race preferences. Looking at the television viewership ratings to test whether racial prefer- ences exist is not a new empirical strategy. The idea is to look at “revealed preferences” rather than subjective responses. The previous studies consistently found that the racial composition of television appearances influences viewership ratings regardless of the type of program (Myers, 2008; Aldrich, Arcidiacono, and Vigdor, 2005; Kanzawa and Funk, 2001). The existence of racial preferences among television viewers shows not only cultural differ- ences between races (Waldfogel, 2003) but also may yield unintended economic consequences for those who have stakes in the ratings (e.g. news anchors or professional sports players). An- other important concern about racial preferences among viewers is that, if television program producers take viewers’ preferences into account and accommodate their demand, minorities might be under-represented in those programs. This might have an impact on racial identity for the television generation....
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This note was uploaded on 07/21/2011 for the course BUS 10001 taught by Professor All during the Spring '11 term at Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology.

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American_Idol - American Idol: Evidence on Same-Race...

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