Felix Chopra, University of Bonn - (Job Market Seminar)

"Media Persuasion and Consumption: Evidence from the Dave Ramsey Show"


Can entertaining programs influence individual consumption and savings decisions? I study this question by examining the impact of the Dave Ramsey Show, an iconic US radio talk show which encourages people to spend less and save more. To that end, I combine household-level expenditure records from a large scanner panel with fine-grained information about the geographic coverage of the radio show over time. Exploiting the quasi-natural experiment created by the staggered expansion of the radio show from 2004 to 2019, I find that exposure to the radio show decreases monthly household expenditures. This effect is driven by households with initially high expenditures relative to their income. In a mechanism experiment, I document that listening to the radio show has a persistent effect on people's attitudes towards consumption and debt. This suggests that attitudinal changes are a key mechanism driving behavioral change. My findings highlight the potential of entertaining mass media programs for interventions aimed at changing people's financial decisions.

Contact person: Søren Leth-Petersen